Friday, 27 August 2010

Roast polenta with pesto & vegetables

My first “polenta experience” was not very promising. Few years back we went skiing to Italy and we were hoping for a culinary journey as well as some exciting sliding down the slopes. Unfortunately the food in our hotel was dreadful and the only decent food we managed to eat was in the small restaurants and bars on the Dolomites’ slopes.

One night they have served a polenta in our hotel. It was pale; it looked like poo and did not encourage me to taste this dish. But I thought to myself “do not judge the book by its cover” and I gave it a go. When I swallowed a spoonful I thought I will never eat it again.

Later on I was tempted several times by lovely magazine pictures of polenta cut into the blocks, and then fried and served with meat stews. I decided to cook it at home to see if I really hate it so much. Surprisingly it was very tasty, even before frying, but when I left it to set and cut into pieces which I have fried and served with beef stew, I have fallen in love with this product.

On one of the Polish culinary blogs I have found a new (to me) lovely way to prepare the polenta. Similar to topping a pizza base, but instead of dough girl used the polenta. My recipe is completely different as I did not have all of the ingredients such as tomato pesto or mozzarella, but I have done something so delicious that I am going to experiment with different toppings in the future. I used what I had in the fridge and cupboards that day. Use you imagination and top it with whatever you fancy.

Serves 2

120g polenta
2 handfuls of spinach
small piece of cheese (I used local Jervaulx Blue)
2 garlic cloves
2-3 tbsp olive oil
small courgette
large tomato
few basil leaves
balsamic syrup for garnishing

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Prepare the polenta accordingly to producer’s instructions. Transfer it onto a tray lined with a baking paper and shape into a circle making sure it is levelled.

Prepare you pesto by putting spinach, garlic, cheese, some freshly ground pepper and 2 tbsp of olive oil into a food processor. Mix until smooth and set aside.

Using a veg peeler cut courgette into a strips lengthwise. Fry in a non stick pan with tbsp olive oil until al-dente.

Spread the pesto over a polenta, top with courgette strips and tomato divided into eight pieces.

Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes. I used grill for last 3 minutes.

Transfer onto a plate, garnish with fresh basil and balsamic syrup.

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