Monday, May 16, 2016

Polenta with Fontina and Roasted Vegetables

This post is dedicated to grandmothers.  First, because I sort of forgot about this dish even though it was super delicious (this is one of those recipes whose pictures got deleted) until I saw my grandmother yesterday, because I brought some of it up to her when she was sick last month.  My mom and aunt Susie were up there too and got to eat some of it, and they were so enamored, Susie immediately bought fontina cheese!  Thanks for being the visual reminder, Gram!

This meal is also dedicated to grandmothers because it's a simple dish of polenta with cheese, and roasted veggies on top.  Polenta, by the way, is basically corn meal cooked into a thick porridge and then baked.  What does that have to do with grandmothers? I have always remembered that my aunt Linda said that her Sicilian grandmother used to say, "they eat polenta" as the ultimate insult.  I find this hilarious.  Apparently polenta was seen as trashy food for poor people!  Ha!  Okay fine, I am poor, but this simple, hearty dish would be right at home in a fancy Italian restaurant with rich people too.  So Linny's grandmother was wrong about polenta, but I will still dedicate it to her :)

You can totally change this recipe up if you'd like.  Swap out the fontina cheese for anything melty, and roast whatever vegetables are sitting in your refrigerator.  I went with the recipe as is, and I ate every last grain of that polenta for days.  It's easy, cheesy (fontina and Parmesan, you guys) and filling and amazing, and the veggies caramelize in the oven and are a perfect sweet compliment to the buttery, cheesy polenta.  It feels like a wintry dish, but hey, I wore my winter coat at recess duty today, so the time for polenta is not over!  Give it a shot before the weather really heats up.  You will not be disappointed.


polenta with fontina and roasted vegetables
from Williams Sonoma
serves 6

3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for pans
1 small eggplant, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
2 small zucchini, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
2 small yellow summer squash, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1/2 red onion, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 orange bell pepper, seeded and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
salt and pepper
1 cup stone-ground polenta
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded fontina cheese


1) Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Oil a rimmed baking sheet and an 8-inch baking dish.

2) In a large bowl, combine the eggplant, zucchini, summer squash, red onion, and bell pepper.  Drizzle with the 3 tablespoons oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine.  Arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.  Roast, tossing once, until the vegetables are caramelized, 20 - 25 minutes.  Set aside.  Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

3) Meanwhile, in a heavy saucepan. bring 4 cups salted water to a  boil over medium heat.  Stirring constantly, very slowly add the polenta.  Cook, stirring constantly, until the polenta begins to chicken, about 5 minutes.  Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook the polenta, stirring frequently, until the polenta is soft, about 25 minutes.  Add the butter, Parmesan, and fontina and stir until the cheeses melt.  Pour the polenta into the prepared baking dish and smooth the top.

4) Bake just until the polenta begins to set, about 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and top evenly with the roasted vegetables.  Continue to bake until the vegetables are heated through, about 15 minutes.  Serve the polenta directly from the dish.

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