Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Recipe: Vegetable Polenta

I grew up in the South, so I have eaten plenty of grits.  They are a very comforting food, but one that is a bit finicky to cook and, done right, they take quite a bit of time and care.  Polenta is just as comforting but takes a fraction of the time and has a unique flavor.  For the uninitiated, polenta is basically corn meal.  Like grits, there are numerous different cuts and styles of it ranging in expense.  I stick with a box of corn muffin mix.  The texture is nice and smooth, and it comes together very quickly.  For this version,  I added plenty of vegetables and some mild chilies to give it a subtle kick.  You can add whatever you want as well, I even topped it a few nights with a portion of a zucchini boat (zucchini chunked and sauteed would be great in this as well).

You will need:

One 8.5oz box corn muffin mix
4 cups stock (or water, but it will have less flavor)
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 bell pepper, washed and chopped
One 4oz can green chiles, drained
One 14oz can diced tomatoes, drained well
Pat of butter
Handful of parmesan or italian cheese mix (optional and to taste)
Thyme for garnish
Salt
Pepper
Garlic Powder

You will need two pots for this recipe, one large saut√© pan and one medium sauce pot.  Put the saute pan over medium to medium high heat and saute the onions and green peppers until they just begin to get soft, around 5-8 minutes. While those cook, begin bringing the stock to a boil.  To the vegetables, add salt, pepper, and heavy hit of the garlic powder.  Add the drained chilies and the drained tomatoes.  Stir together and heat. When the stock begins to boil slowly add in the corn muffin mix while stirring to prevent any clumps. Cook together for 3-5 minutes, adding the pat of butter and the handful of cheese, until hot throughout and smooth.   Using a slotted spoon, add in the sauteed vegetables and mix together.  Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.  Garnish with some thyme leaves and a small sprinkle of cheese.

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