Roasted Summer Veggies with Parmesan Polenta

Roasted Summer Veggies with Parmesan Polenta

Ina Garten’s recipe for parmesan polenta got me over my aversion for all things polenta. I had never been a fan of the gooey textured stuff before, but I had been missing something key: enough butter, cream, and parmesan. That, and the right toppings. This meal brings it all together—a creamy polenta base, which serves a two-part role as sauce and substance; and roasted summer veggies, which benefit from (and compliment) the creaminess of the rest of the dish; pine nuts, which add much-needed crunch. I’ve made it four times in the last month, a testament to how well I’ve been convert from polenta-hater to lover. Maybe it will convert someone you know, too.

Roasted Summer Veggies with Parmesan Polenta
Roasted Summer Veggies with Parmesan Polenta

Roasted Summer Veggies with Parmesan Polenta

Published May 30, 2019 by
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Serves: 4   |    Active Time: 45 minutes



Ingredients:

For Roasted Summer Veggies:
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 1-2 small to medium zucchini
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 medium red onion
  • Leaves from 2 sprigs thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil or avocado oil
  • Salt & Pepper

  • For Parmesan Polenta:
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup coarsely ground or stone ground cornmeal
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 heaping cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1-2 tablespoon heavy cream (or milk)
  • Ground black pepper to taste

  • For Serving:
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  • Garnish: additional shredded Parmesan cheese, additional sprigs of thyme

  • Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 475°F. Prepare veggies: dice eggplant into 1/2-inch cubes. Slice zucchini into half moons. Slice bell peppers into strips. Slice red onion into wedges.
    2. Place chopped veggies and cherry tomatoes on a sheet pan in a single layer. Use two sheet pans if veggies are over-crowding the pan. Drizzle liberally with oil, and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and thyme leaves.
    3. Place veggies in oven and roast for 30 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes to ensure even cooking.
    4. When the veggies have 15 minutes left to cook, begin preparing the polenta. Bring 4 cups of water in a pot to a boil. Add salt and garlic.
    5. When water is boiling, add cornmeal, whisking immediately to prevent clumps from forming. After a few minutes, polenta should begin to thicken. Continue whisking, and remove from heat. Continue stirring almost constantly for about 10 minutes.
    6. Add butter, Parmesan cheese, and cream to polenta, stirring to incorporate. Polenta should become thick and creamy, and will continue to set as it cools. Season to taste with pepper.
    7. Serve: scoop polenta into serving bowls, and top with roasted veggies. Sprinkle with pine nuts and parmesan and a garnish with a sprig of thyme. Serve hot.

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    Eggplant Cannelloni

    Eggplant Cannelloni

    The last few months have been go, go, go, which has meant fewer posts to the blog, less time to photograph recipes, 😭 and learning to cut myself a break every once in a while.

    Somehow, yesterday was April and today it's September. September thirteenth. Back in April my mantra was, "You can't do literally everything," but somewhere between then and now, my mantra became nothing but a string of words, as I continued to ignore their meaning. So, today, I'm trying out this new mantra: Cut yourself a break. It means going easy on yourself when you've been trying your hardest. It means giving yourself a pass when you need it most.

    Eggplant Cannelloni

    In the midst of my mantra-creating and mantra-forgetting, our stockpile of eggplants has been growing: Not a day goes by that I don't have at least three of them sitting in our fruit bowl, staring me back. This year I planted six varieties, next year I'll plant two: Fengyuan and Black Beauty. 

    • Edirne - these were the first to fruit, but they're my least favorite to eat. other than their pretty green and purple stripes, they are just a little bitter and not as tasty.

    • Antigua - these are my favorite to look at but they are quite small, better for slicing in half and roasting with some harissa or something of the sort.

    • Fengyuan - my most copious producer, I freakin' love these eggplants. They are long (17 inches!), skinny and usually make a "J" shape. They are absolutely delicious when stir fried with some garlic and Thai basil.

    • Ping Tung - I also like these for stir fries, but for whatever reason I prefer the Fengyuan... no need to grow both, they are so similar!

    • Black Beauty and Florida - speaking of similar, I can barely tell these two plants apart. I think I like the black beauty ones the most (we have gotten some massive eggplants from those plants). In any case, they are the best variety for recipes like this cannelloni, where you want wide strips, or this roasted eggplant salad. They're also the variety you usually find at the grocery store.

    Ok, don't quote me on the only growing two varieties thing. But those are my favorite so far this season. Have you ever grow eggplants? What were your favorite varieties? 

    Basket of Eggplants from the Garden
    Eggplant Cannelloni

    Normally I'd suggest serving this with a glass of red, but I happened to also be making a batch of this Fig & Pear White Wine Sangria, so of course I had to have a glass of that instead. 

    P.S., if you like this recipe, you'll LOVE this Zucchini Ricotta Manicotti. 😋

    Eggplant Cannelloni

    Published September 13, 2018 by
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    Serves: 6-8   |    Active Time: 40 minutes



    Ingredients:

  • 2 medium sized eggplants
  • 2-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • 1 cup mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup parmesan
  • 1 pound beef
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt & pepper to taste

  • Directions:

    1. Light grill set flame to medium. Slice eggplant into strips the long way. Brush eggplant slices with olive oil, and them place on grill, cooking for about 5 minutes before flipping. Eggplant slices should have char marks on the outside and be softened through. Remove from heat, turn off grill, and set eggplant aside.
    2. Heat coconut oil in a medium sized skillet over medium-high heat until it glistens. Add diced onion and minced garlic and sauté until onions are transparent.
    3. Add beef to skillet. Brown beef, using a wooden spatula to create crumbles as it cooks. When beef is browned, add 1/2 cup marinara sauce to the pan and stir. Turn off heat.
    4. Allow beef mixture and eggplant to cool just enough so they can be handled before proceeding to next step. (Warm is fine, just avoid burning yourself!)
    5. Prepare baking dish: spread remaining 1-1/2 cups marinara sauce in the bottom of a 9x9 or 7x12 baking dish.
    6. Work with one eggplant strip at a time. Lay it out in front of you, with the short end towards you, and place about 2 tablespoons of beef mixture in the center of the strip. Roll the strip around the beef, rolling in the opposite direction of your body. Place rolled eggplant in the baking dish, with the “seam” down. Repeat this step until all eggplant strips are used.
    7. Sprinkle top of cannelloni with mozzarella and then parmesan, and place in oven. Set broiler to high and broil for 5-10 minutes, until cheese and sauce are bubbling. Serve hot.

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    Parma Rosa Chicken

    Parma Rosa Chicken

    Some kids go through a mac 'n' cheese phase (it's something they can cook themselves), and some kids go through a cereal phase (doesn't require cooking at all). Me? Knorr Instant Parma Rosa Sauce was a childhood fave. It’s embarrassing but true.

    To this day, I'm not sure what is even in those packs of instant pasta sauce. And frankly? I don't want to know. What I do know is that it's addicting. Back then I called it "pink sauce." 

    Even though I ate many (many!) packets of pink sauce as a kid, it's not what I was thinking about when I started working on this recipe. Nope, I just thought I was making a creamy chicken parmesan. It wasn't until my first bite that my memory sprang into action: 

    I know this flavor! This tastes like pink sauce! 

    What was that called? Parma Rosa, a Google search told me.

    Parma Rosa Chicken
    Parma Rosa Chicken

    And it does taste just like Parma Rosa -- a bigger, bolder, fresher, real parma rosa. A grown up pink sauce. And instead of a soft creamy pink color, it's a rich creamy orange-red, evidence of real tomatoes in there. 

    You can eat this dish as-is (that's what I did, with a side salad), or you could serve it over pasta. It goes great with a glass of white wine, and the leftovers are just as good the next day. 

    Between this recipe and this lasagna, I've been on quite the Italian kick lately! (Is pink sauce Italian? I don't think so, but it seems Italian). 

    Parma Rosa Chicken

    Parma Rosa Chicken

    Published July 26, 2018 by
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    Serves: 4   |    Active Time: 30 minutes



    Ingredients:

  • 4 small chicken breasts (or 2 large cut in half)
  • 1-2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 16 ounce can tomato sauce (Note: this is in the canned tomato aisle; it is puréed tomato -- not a pre-made pizza or pasta sauce, which will already have herbs, garlic, etc)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, minced, plus more for garnish
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan

  • Directions:

    1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 10-inch oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil glistens, place the chicken in the skillet. Cook on each side for 5 minutes, until browned. Move to a plate and set aside.
    2. If pan is dry, add additional tablespoon of coconut oil. Add onions and garlic, and sauté until transparent. Reduce heat to low. Pour in tomato sauce and stir.
    3. Add thyme, rosemary, and basil to sauce, and then stir in the cream. Place chicken back in pan, immersing it in the sauce. Allow sauce to simmer lightly for 1-2 minutes, and then top each piece of chicken with parmesan. Place skillet in oven and turn to broil. Allow to cook for about 5 minutes — until cheese is bubbling. Remove from oven, top with additional basil for garnish, and serve hot.

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