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Cathy Katin-Grazzini

Cathy's Kitchen Prescription LLC

www.cathyskitchenprescription.com

 

Polenta Summer Garden Sauté

 

After a visit to the farmer’s market in summer, this is a quick and easy supper: A steaming bowl of polenta topped with a flavorful sauté of ripe summer garden tomatoes, eggplant, squashes, and plenty of fresh herbs. I love polenta’s creamy, comforting corniness. Coupled with sautéed sun-kissed garden vegetables, this flavor-filled, nutritious dish hits the spot. This fast, super nutritious, low-fat meal is delicious, inexpensive, and so loaded with fiber that it fills your belly without expanding your waistline. So go ahead, have second helpings if you want to.

 

Prep 20 minutes         

Cooking time 15 minutes               

Serves 4 to 6

 

1 cup mini bell peppers, cored, roasted

1 medium onion or large shallot, cut in a medium dice

2 large cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme

Splash of dry vermouth, white wine or no-sodium vegetable broth to deglaze pan

1 small Italian eggplant or 1 Asian eggplant, cut in a medium dice

1 small zucchini, cut in a medium dice

1 small summer squash, cut in a medium dice

4 cups multicolored cherry tomatoes, cut in quarters or ripe garden tomatoes, cut in a medium dice

6 to 8 zucchini blossoms, pistils and stems removed, sliced in pieces (optional)

¼ cup packed basil leaves, cut in a chiffonade (rolled and slivered), plus more for garnish

2 cups medium-coarse cornmeal or polenta

7 cups water

2 to 3 tablespoons shiro (mild white) miso paste to season the sauté, plus 2 tablespoons to flavor the polenta cooking water, or to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Garnish with basil

 

Hint

  1. Cornmeal and polenta products vary by grind, amount of water required, and time to cook. Most polentas today are precooked, requiring only 5 to 7 minutes to thicken. I generally recommend using up to a cup more water than most package instructions; once cooked, cover and allow it to rest it for 5 minutes: It becomes extra creamy and smooth.
  2. Polenta remains very hot for quite a while.  When it cools, it thickens, and eventually solidifies into a block. If you have polenta leftovers, for another dish consider slicing it to make crostini. Then, toast it in a nonstick skillet and top with your favorite vegetable toppings or chunky sauces.

 

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  • Pour 7 cups of water into a saucepan. Heat and maintain at a very low simmer until the sauté is ready.
  • To roast the cored mini bell peppers, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Roast for about 20 minutes or until they begin to collapse and darken on their edges.
  • Heat a skillet over a medium flame for 3 minutes.  Dry sauté the onion or shallot until it releases its liquid and begins to caramelize and darken the pan. 
  • Deglaze the pan with a few tablespoons of your liquid of choice, scraping up the sugars from the pan with a wooden spoon.
  • Stir in the thyme and garlic, stirring, and cook for a minute.
  • Add the eggplant and squashes, lower the heat and cover. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally as the vegetables begin to soften. 
  • Now add the tomatoes, cover, and continue to maintain at a low simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • When the vegetables are tender but still intact, add the roasted peppers and the squash blossoms. Cook for a final minute.
  • Remove from the heat, uncover, stir in miso paste to taste, distributing it well throughout. Grind pepper to taste and stir in the basil. Taste and correct the seasonings, as you like.  Cover and keep hot until serving.
  • Bring the polenta pot to a moderate boil. Season with about 2 tablespoons of aka miso (optional) and stir to dissolve it as you slowly add 2 cups of polenta or cornmeal. As your vegetables are Add water to a deep pot to protect you from potential hot splattering.  Season with miso to taste. Bring to a boil.
  • Very slowly pour the polenta into the pot, stirring with a long-handled wooden spoon as you go.  The polenta cooks rather quickly, in 5-7 minutes or so, so continue stirring until it’s done.
  • Lower the flame to a simmer to minimize splattering.  The longer the polenta cooks the denser it becomes.  For this dish, it’s nice on the slightly looser side to facilitate pouring in Step 14, so do not overcook it. Taste it for doneness, remove the pot from the heat, and cover it. 
  • Allow the polenta to rest for 2 to 3 minutes and then pour it onto your serving platter.  Top with the garden sauté, and garnish it generously with basil leaves.

 

 

Polenta Summer Garden Sauté

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