One of my favorite foods in the whole wide world is Polenta. It’s right up there with chocolate.
No kidding! Love, love, love it! If I ever see Polenta on a menu, I order it. My favorite way to eat Polenta is topped with fresh tomatoes that have been slightly cooked with fresh basil.
I am still picking vine ripe tomatoes from my garden and my basil bushes are full and green.
That is why I am sharing one of my favorite recipes with you. I really needed another excuse to have Polenta again for the 10th time this month.
Side note: The husband that never reads this blog just doesn’t have the same love for this as me and the rest of the family. Don’t worry he’s fine – I grilled up that trout he caught over the weekend. He’s happy.
You will need Polenta, which is a coarse ground cornmeal. You can use cornmeal as a substitute, but it will have a finer texture. If you can find Polenta, that would be my first choice.
You will need chicken stock, milk, fresh rosemary, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper and a little oil and butter, and a good flavored Parmesan cheese.
Pour a couple of tablespoons olive oil into a pan or pot.
Add a couple of tablespoons of unsalted butter.
Finely chop about a teaspoon of fresh rosemary. I wouldn’t use dried rosemary for this recipe. It would be like chewing on a twig. If you can’t get your hands of fresh rosemary, just substitute with fresh parsley or omit the rosemary all together.
Add the rosemary to the pan of oil and butter.
Toss is the salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Yes, this recipe does contain a bit of heat. You may omit the red pepper flakes, if you are afraid. I’m not afraid.
Mince the two cloves of garlic.
Just barely heat. You don’t want to brown the garlic.
Add the milk.
Add the chicken stock and cook until the liquids start to steam.
Slowly whisk in the Polenta. I should mention that Polenta is basically “thick grits” or maybe I should say “thick corn grits”. Good stuff.
The mixture will begin to thicken and bubble. Be careful when those bubbles pop, they can burn your hands.
It will begin to thicken quite quickly. This is when I change from a whisk to a wooden spoon or a spatula.
(love these high heat spatula’s)
When the Polenta gets quite thick I cover it with a lid.
Cover for only a few minutes. Remove the lid and continue to stir.
Sometimes I repeat this process a few times. I like to cook the corn meal until it’s quite thick.
Remove from the heat and add the Parmesan.
Pour the hot Polenta into a glass pie dish or a 9 x 9-inch baking dish.
Smooth the top and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator until the Polenta has cooled.
You can make this a day in advance.
While the Polenta is cooking, let’s cut up the tomatoes. That were just picked from my garden.
Love this little tool. It’s is used for coring tomatoes.
I’m going to show you how I peel my tomatoes. You can leave the peel on or remove it anyway you like. This is how I do it. It works for me.
Cut the tomato is half.
Now cut into quarters.
And then cut into eighths.
Slide the knife between the peel and the flesh of the tomato. Pressing the knife against the cutter board.
Just slide it through. Ta Da the peel is left on the cutting board.
Chop the tomato and discard the peel.
You will need about 3 – 4 cups of chopped tomatoes.
Chop fresh basil and set aside.
Pour about a tablespoon of good flavored extra-virgin olive oil into a saute pan.
Add chopped tomatoes.
Add salt to taste.
And fresh ground pepper.
Just barely bring to a simmer.
Add two tablespoons of butter right before you take the pan off the heat.
Stir in the fresh basil.
Stir until the butter is melted. Set the sauce aside while you cook the Polenta.
Remove the chilled Polenta from the refrigerator and cut it into eighths. Like cutting a pie.
Look how nicely it has set up. I didn’t even oil the pie plate. This stuff just lifts right out.
You can use a griddle, a large skillet or even a grill.
Pour about a tablespoon of oil onto the griddle.
Add a tablespoon of butter.
Place the Polenta wedges on the griddle and cook until the bottoms have begin to brown and crisp.
When the underneath side has browned turn the wedges over to brown the other side.
It will probably take about 3-4 minutes per side. You can omit the oil and butter completely if you place them on a grill. I just lightly brush a little extra-virgin olive oil on the outsides of the Polenta. I love to grill it.
Remove from the heat.
I like to serve my Polenta in a bowl and ladle all the wonderful juices from the tomatoes all over the top.
I basically have my Polenta swimming in the tomato juices.
Sprinkle with a bit more chopped fresh basil.
Eat with a spoon.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly g round black pepper
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 cups milk
1 cup Polenta or coarse ground cornmeal
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, rosemary, salt and pepper and sauté for 1 minute. Add the chicken stock and milk heat until the mixture begins to steam. Slowly stir in the Polenta, stirring constantly with a whisk. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly. The polenta will begin to thicken. Cover with a lid and cook for a few minutes. Remove cover and carefully stir. The thickened mixture will pop and splatter. Cover again and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Repeat this process again. Remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese. Pour into a 9 x 9-inch pan or a 9-inch round pie dish. smooth the top and refrigerate until firm and cold.
cut eh chilled polenta into squares. Lift each piece out with a spatula. Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauté pan or griddle. Add the polenta and cook over medium heat for about 3-5 minutes, turning once, until browned on the outside and heated inside. Add more butter and oil, as needed. Serve immediately.
Adapted from Rosemary Polenta recipe of Ina Garten
5 large tomatoes, skinned and chopped
1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons butter
Place a large skillet or sauté pan over medium heat. Add olive oil to the pan then tomatoes that have been peeled and chopped. Add salt and pepper to taste. Barely bring to a simmer. Add the fresh basil leaves and butter. Stir until the butter is melted. Ladle over sauteed Polenta.
Enjoy those home grown tomatoes while you can. The frost will take them soon…it always does…then they are gone…I cry.
I posted this recipe last year. It’s beyond divine
You really want to make it before the tomatoes are gone.
Click here: Fresh Tomato and Basil Tart