Saturday, March 30, 2013

Polenta with Tomato Sauce and Mozzarella

It was Architect's turn to cook on Wednesday night and she made Polenta with Tomato Sauce and Mozzarella, aka Polenta Parmesan. This dish was so incredibly tasty and satisfying that we hardly noticed that it was not made with the usual cast of characters…chicken, eggplant, veal, tilapia, or crab cakes. Yes, crab cakes.  Crab Cake Parmesan was the special one night at a local BYOB and I ordered it just for the experience.  It was ok….I should have ordered my go-to dish at an Italian restaurant, homemade gnocchi.

Architect’s Polenta Parmesan was delectable.  Polenta is ground milled corn and it naturally gluten-free.  Corn is native to the “New World” and was grown and cultivated by Native Americans in the ideal climate of Central America. European explorers brought corn back to the “Old World” and adapted the crop to thrive in the more moderate European climate. Italians eagerly adopted the crop – especially the poor people in Northern Italy – promptly added a dish to their culinary collection known as "polenta" which simply means ground corn.  Polenta can be served as a side dish or as a main course substitute for pasta since it easily absorbs the tastes of the many sauces you can serve with it.  

The first thing Architect did was make a simple tomato sauce.  Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a pan and added 2 cloves of garlic.  Cook that for about 1 minute then add one large can of San Marzano tomatoes, crushed. Simmer for 20-25 minutes, season with sea salt and 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley.  Marjoram would be a nice surrogate for parsley and to spice it up a bit, you can add red pepper flakes.

To make the polenta, you will need:
1 cup of polenta.  Architect used Estancia Organic Polenta.
3 cups of broth
3 tablespoons of gated Parmesan Cheese

Bring the broth to a simmer in a large saucepan.  Add the polenta in a thin stream, stirring all the while with a spoon over medium heat.  Continue for a minute or so until the polenta just separates from the sides of the pan.  Add the cheese if using and continue stirring until the cheese has disappeared.

To assemble the Polenta Parmesan, spread the polenta into a baking pan and top with the tomato sauce.  Place thin slices of mozzarella cheese on top and some more Parmesan cheese.  Bake at 375ยบ for 25-30 minutes until the cheese melts.   Place in the broiler for a few minutes to brown the cheese.

The “boys” of our crew joined us so they got to experience our weekly gathering and it was fun to host then!  They serenaded us with their ukulele standards.  For dessert, we had a delicious pistachio apricot cake…more later. 

No comments: