It’s Versatile, Delicious and I Love the Texture
by Marilyn Michael
It’s Zucchini Season and I encourage you to make the I offered earlier. It freezes well so you can put up some of that zucchini in a way that you’ll love to eat. This vegetable dahl is delicious on its own or served over rice but was the inspiration for my with its layers of polenta, seasoned dahl and cheese. This dish is so yummy that it will pass with even dedicated meat eaters. Last night, though, I took one out of the freezer and happened to have some Italian sausage on hand. I crumbled 8 oz. of that sausage and fried it adding it on top of last polenta layer then topped with cheese. WOW, an amazing new dimension of flavor. I promise you’ll be asked for the recipe if you take a vegetarian version of this casserole to your next potluck. You will, though, have enough for a couple casseroles, so make one for the freezer. Just leave the cheese off the last layer of polenta and when you re reheat it, add some Italian sausage and then top with cheese.
This brings me to polenta. If you haven’t used it, you don’t need to be intimidated by polenta. For the casserole above, you can buy one of those premade polenta rolls and lay slices down for the polenta layers. When I make it I separate the layers of cooked polenta with plastic wrap before letting them set up. A friend who now makes it lets all the polenta set up then slices it into layers. My same friend hadn’t ever eaten polenta and now loves the texture and versatility. When I make it I have some left over and let it set up in a ½ inch layer then slice it up and fry it in the morning. If you’re fond of Mexican dishes, why not make up taco seasoned meat and layer it with polenta and cheese. You’ll get the same texture as tamale.
This is the basic polenta recipe that I use.
6 cups water
2 teaspoons salt
1 3/4 cups yellow cornmeal
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a heavy large saucepan.
Add 2 teaspoons of salt. Reduce heat to low and slowly in a stream whisk in the cornmeal to avoid lumps. Cook until the mixture thickens, stirring often, about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat.
Add the butter, and stir until melted.
Rich Breakfast Polenta Casserole
This is a rich and delicious polenta recipe that can be used as a breakfast dish or side dish and can be prepared a day ahead.
5 egg yolks
8 cups water
2 cups polenta
2 tsp. salt
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon cooking oil or olive oil
3 heaping teaspoons garlic, minced
1 med. sweet onion, chopped
1 - 14o z. can of diced tomatoes
¼ cup parmesan cheese
Sauté chopped onion and garlic in oil until golden. Set aside.
Bring salted water to a boil, turn to medium and slowly add the polenta. Ideally beat it in with a wire whip to remove all lumps. Continue stirring until the mixture completely thickens. Remove the polenta from the heat.
Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl tempering them by adding some of the hot mixture (so eggs don’t cook) then add egg yolks to the hot polenta along with the butter, onion & garlic mixture, tomatoes and Parmesan cheese making sure to blend evenly.
Pour into large coated baking dish. Allow to cool, cover and refrigerate.
Reheat at 325 for approx. 10 minutes, or until heated through. Cut into squares or spoon it out.