Simple Summer POLENTA pleasures 2 recipes

SIMPLE go-to SUMMER comfort food with...
POLENTA slices and MARKET fresh ingredients.

The viably respectable, ready-made POLENTA filled TUBE...
came to the rescue towards some unplanned Summer day meals.

Polenta is very versatile...especially when already pre-cooked and neatly packaged in a tube.  Yes, I very often use this delightfully ready-made preparation.  Don't be shocked.   A few time-consuming short-cuts are very welcomed in my kitchen as well ;o)  However, in this particular instance, I need to confess why I’ve adopted such a product.  Considering the unpleasant experience I had trying to replicate my Grandfather’s homemade polenta at the age of 12...I no longer have the desire to put myself in harms way again.  My arm got lightly burnt and my young face was very close to getting a tattoo from the bubbling squirt that came flying upwards with no warning.  Thank goodness for my swerve and ‘ducking’ skills ;)  Yes, there I said it...I’m terrified to re-make polenta the traditional way.  I guess, it'll take another huge while before I get back into that polenta pot saddle again.  For now, I am quite satisfied and content for having discovered this little polenta tube gem.

When short on time and/ or not really in the mood for making polenta the traditional way...this little tube can save the day.   It has indeed been adopted at our mealtime and has become a perfectly acceptable and very surprisingly appetizing option as well.

Besides being a very healthy gluten-free fine corn grain...POLENTA is so adaptable in so many recipes. It will absorb any flavour you are in the mood for or quite simply have lingering around in your fridge. It's very easy to use: slice or dice it...ready to suit any quick and easy meal in as short as 30 minutes time.

Easy preparations were my speciality during the last few weeks, especially during our house move.

Before I share the more elaborate puff POLENTA patties with roasted VEGETABLE montage...
I thought of sneaking in a very succeeded and quickly assembled meal:

Cheese topped POLENTA rounds...
with red Pepper, Rapini (Broccoli Rabe)
serves 2-4 persons 
(depending if used as an entrée or as a main dish)

Click HERE for the printable version.

(American / Metric measures)

. 1 ready-made POLENTA tube (cut into 8 rounds)
. 3 tbsp. (45ml) olive oil
. 4-5 medium French shallots, sliced
. 1 large red bell pepper, sliced
. 1/8 cup (25ml) 'Sherry' (or any other fortified white wine)
. 1 medium bouquet 'Rapini' (a.k.a. Broccoli Rabe)
. 1 cup (50g) strong Cheddar cheese, * shredded
(to be combined and then separated)
    . 1/4 tsp. (1ml) each: sea salt, granulated garlic, basil, marjoram, sage and tarragon.
note: Don't be concerned if you have only some of the above...be creative with what you have.

* Cheese for this dish is really a personal choice.  Most strong, flavourful cheeses will turn out excellent results.

1. Use some already cooked greens like the 'Rapini' used in this recipe or make them on the spot before assembling the layers.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, on medium-high heat, sauté the oil and the shallots to then caramelize them on medium-low heat.  Raise back the heat to medium and add the sliced peppers.  Mix well and cook down slightly keeping a slight bite to the pepper.  Pour the Sherry and have its alcohol release during a few seconds.   Add the greens and sprinkle half the seasoning mix.  Combine well.
3. At this point, empty out the center of the skillet by pushing the vegetables towards the edges.  Place the sliced polenta rounds in the center.  Cook each side about 3 minutes and sprinkle the remaining seasoning.
4. Once the polenta has been cooked, the vegetables can be added to the tops of the polenta rounds as well as generously adding the cheese on top.  Let the cheese melt and your done.  Buon appetito ;o)

Now, for our festive Summer time and...
house move celebration meal.

puff POLENTA patties...
with roasted VEGETABLE montage
serves 2-4 persons 
(depending if used as an entrée or as a main dish)
Either have pre-roasted veggies ready to mount on freshly baked and puffed Polenta tube slices...
OR make everything from scratch as everything comes together in no time at all.

Click HERE for the printable version.

(American / Metric measures)

...Vegetables to be roasted:
. 1 medium Eggplant (type: Black Beauty) cut into 8 rounds
. 1 medium sweet onion (Spanish, Vidalia or other), thickly sliced, round
. 2 tomatoes ('Roma' variety), sliced lengthwise
. sprinkle of sea salt, granulated garlic and sugar (optional)

...Vegetable sauté:
. 1 large, sweet onion (Spanish, Vidalia or other), chopped
. 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
. 1/8 cup (25ml)  'Sherry' (or any other fortified white wine)
. Seasonings:  1/4 tsp. (1ml) each: sea salt, granulated garlic, basil, marjoram, sage and tarragon.
note: Don't be concerned if you have only some of the above...be creative with what you have.

...Polenta patties:
. 1 ready-made POLENTA tube (cut into 8 rounds)
. olive oil for basting 
. sprinkle of sea salt and granulated garlic

. Cheese: Strong aged cheese like Cheddar, Feta, Parmesan...among so many great selections work exquisitely well with this versatile creation.

Note: most of the roasted vegetables had been made prior to assembling the...
montage on top of the freshly prepared Polenta puff patties.

...For the roasting of the eggplants, onions and tomatoes:
. Pre-heat oven at 425F/220C/Gas6 and place oven rack at the second level from the bottom.
1. Slice the eggplant and salt each slice.  Make sure it sweats out its bitterness.  This will take about 30 minutes set up on a rack.  
2. Then place each patted-dry slice on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Place the sliced onion rounds in between the eggplant.   On the same baking sheet, place the tomato slices sprinkled with a little sea salt, garlic granules and optional sugar.  A tutorial for making a larger batch of roasted tomatoes was clearly explained here.
They'll roast very well together.  The roasting should take about 45-50 minutes or until they look caramelized.  
...Vegetable sauté:
3. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, sauté the chopped onion and red pepper.  Begin on medium-high to then caramelize on medium low heat.  Pour the Sherry and have its alcohol release during a few seconds.  Mix in the seasoning and shut the heat.  Let it rest until ready to assemble the polenta montage.
...Polenta Patties:
4. Brush each slice with a little olive oil and place on another parchment lined baking sheet.  Sprinkle with the sea salt and granulated garlic.  Right after the vegetables have been roasted, bake for 40 minutes or until the puff has magically appeared in the patties.

...Montage and Garnish:
. Place Eggplant as the base to the Polenta patties and pile up the layers: Onion, tomato, cheese.  
. Top the montage with the vegetable sauté.
. Fresh basil leaves along with a butternut squash purée were used to finalize the meal preparation.  
Buon appetito.

I'm thrilled to be back to share...
a little part of what goes on in
'la mia piccola cucina'.

Have a lovely week everyone.

Ciao for now and flavourful wishes,

Comments ... ??? ... or suggestions ... write me :o)
Claudia at: foodessa [at] gmail [dot] com

Go HERE for more SAVOURY creations.

Please take note on how I bake and cook...
Here’s a 101 of sorts to make sure that there are no disappointments when trying my creations.  
Also...just so you know...feel free to increase the salt and sweet factor since I'm not high on either of them ;o)

. Use DRY cup measurements for...you guessed it...all DRY ingredients.
Anything DRY gets measured by spooning the overfilled ingredient (never shake the cup) and then level off with a flat edged tool.  Exception...Brown sugar should be packed in and leveled.
. Use LIQUID cup measurements for...all LIQUIDS that cannot be leveled like for example butter, yogurt...etc.  Measure the liquids at eye level to avoid overdoing what the recipe truly needs.
OVENS are unfortunately not created equal.  Mine is so old that it has reached many degrees off it's norm.  It's really worth investing a few dollars to test yours with an appropriate oven thermometer.  You'd be surprised how many ovens I've heard about not being where they should have been.  Before you lose any more ingredients and much time preparing a new recipe...run to the store...you'll thank me later. 

A few more related recipes that may interest you:
- MILLET stuffed Bell PEPPER cups
- 2 Herbs roasted Nuts Tomato PESTO
- EGGPLANT cheese RED PEPPER loaf 
healthy BAKE no fry EGGPLANT parmesan 
- Cheap to sweet ROASTED TOMATO simplicity