Cathy's Kitchen Prescription LLC
Polenta Summer Garden Sauté
I love polenta in all its creamy, comforting corniness. It pairs beautifully with a flavorful sauté of ripe summer garden tomatoes, eggplant, summer and zucchini squash with plenty of fresh thyme and basil, and whips up in no time! Polenta smothered in a summer garden sauté brings the bright garden flavors right onto your dinner plate!
A fast, super nutritious, low-fat meal, that’s delicious and so loaded with fiber, it will fill you up with few calories. A whole food plant-based recipe with no-gluten/oil/salt/sugar.
Prep time 20 minutes Cooking time 30 minutes Serves 4-6
1 medium onion or large shallot, medium dice
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
Splash of dry vermouth, white wine or no-sodium veggie broth to deglaze pan
1 small Italian eggplant or 1 Asian eggplant, medium dice
1 young zucchini, medium dice
1 young summer squash, medium dice
4 cups fresh multicolored cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered or mixed with other ripe tomatoes, diced
1 cup mini bell peppers, cored, dry roasted
6-8 squash blossoms, pistils and stems removed, sliced in pieces (optional)
Small bunch of basil, whole or leaves cut chiffonade
Aka (red) miso •, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups of coarse polenta like Bob’s Red Mill ••
6 ½ cups water
Aka (red) miso •, to taste
Garnish with additional small basil leaves.
• Miso is a good salt alternative that helps to lower blood pressure (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5313421/#:~:text=Miso%2C%20which%20is%20made%20from,%2C%20including%20salt%2Dsensitive%20hypertension).
•• The proportions of polenta to water and cooking time will vary with different varieties and grinds of corn. This recipe used Bob’s Red Mill’s organic polenta which I like for its texture and flavor.
To dry roast the mini bell peppers, place the whole but cored peppers on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake in a 350°F/177°C oven for 10-15 minutes or until they have collapsed and begun to darken on their edges. Set aside.
Heat a skillet over a medium flame for 3 minutes. Dry sauté the onion or shallot for a minute or two, until they release their liquid and begin to carmelize and darken the pan. Deglaze the pan with your liquid of choice. Add the thyme and garlic, stirring, and cook for a minute.
Throw in your eggplant, squashes, lower flame and cover, cooking for about 5 minutes or until they begin to soften. Now add the tomatoes, cover, and continue to simmer on low for about 10-15 minutes.
When the veggies are tender but still intact, add the roasted peppers and the squash blossoms, and cook for a final minute.
Remove from the heat, uncover, add the miso while the sauté is piping hot, stirring well to dissolve and disperse it throughout the sauté. Grind the pepper. Throw in the basil, stir it around. Taste and correct seasonings, as needed.
Hint: For a less rustic, less chunky sauce, transfer a few cups of the sauté at a time to a large cutting board. Using a mezzaluna (or chef knife), chop the sautéed veggies more finely but still with individual components distinguishable. Return to the skillet, cover to keep warm. Set aside.
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, so after it thickens, taste it for doneness, cook for another minute or so, and then cover and remove from the heat.
The polenta will continue to thicken in the hot pot. Let it “rest” for 2-3 minutes and then pour it onto your serving platter. Top with the garden sauté, and garnish with basil leaves because you can never have enough basil!
Hint: Polenta famously retains its heat for quite a while, but when it eventually cools, its consistency becomes solid. If you have leftovers, you can slice up the polenta and sauté topping much like a slice of pie and savor it again at a future meal.
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