Monday, April 4, 2011

Polenta, Act 1

This is what I've been up to this past month of not blogging. Playing with polenta. Well corn meal, technically, which does a pretty darn good job of turning into polenta.

I've done a polenta-love post before, and this will definitely not be the last. In fact, shortly (read: hopefully less than a month) I will be posting an Act 2, because these are 2 recipes I am dying to share with you.

Corn meal is so easy I almost feel like I'm cheating when I cook with it. I don't know why, I guess I feel like I should be experimenting with gluten-free bread or making vegan pudding or some other things that seem a little too complicated the majority of the time.

Another corn meal trait that makes me want to jump and leap stars? It tastes good with anything. It's a great kitchen-sinker - throw whatever in the pot that you will be throwing away in your garbage tomorrow.

Sans wrapper.

and peel.

and maybe mold.

But anything else that hangs out with your food, yes! Throw it in! The pot wants it!

Mediterranean Polenta Casserole
Makes one 2 quart casserole

2 cups milk
1 3/4 cup cold tap water
2 Tb. butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

1/2 onion (any kind)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1.5 cups tomato soup
10 spears asparagus, cut into thirds
1 12oz. can tomatoes with juice
1/2 block tofu
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
dash of salt and pepper

Plus, 1/2 cup prepared pesto

1. Spray your casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Bring the milk, water, butter and salt to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly.

3. Sprinkle in the cornmeal and continue stirring; reduce heat and let the mixture simmer about 35 minutes until it thickens. You will know the polenta is done when it plops off a spoon and when you scrape the bottom of the pot, the polenta doesn't immediately spill to the empty space.

4. Pour the polenta into your greased casserole dish and put into the fridge for cooling.

5. Now, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and pull out a skillet; begin to saute up the onion and garlic for a few minutes.

6. Once the onions begin to get soft, add in the tomato soup, asparagus, canned tomatoes, tofu, and seasonings; let mixture simmer over medium heat until asparagus begins to soften, about 10 minutes.

7. Once the tomato mix is warmed and done, pull the polenta out of the fridge. Spread the pesto on, and top with the warm tomato mixture.

8. Bake covered in the oven for 15 minutes; uncover and sprinkle with cheese for the last 5.

9. Devour!

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