Sunday, January 10, 2010

Polenta with roasted tomato sauce and a side of kale

Happy 2010 everyone! I know my wishes are a little late. And that is not because I decided to take a long blogging break after the recipe marathon week. It is because I have been laid low by a severe throat infection.

It all started when we got back from DC after the Xmas weekend. A complained about soreness in his throat which was apparently making him quite miserable. He got some medicines, I made some soup and we thought all would be well. That was not to be. A got more miserable in a couple of days and just to make matters worse, soreness decided to shift base to my throat. What resulted was me losing my voice and both of us being quite sick for days before the medicines worked. After a long week of hot water, hot soups and hot water gargling I have finally regained my voice. And am back to blogging not that its voice dependent but you know what I mean.

Last weekend when I was sniveling under a blanket and paging through the Bon Appetit Magazine, I came across this very tempting recipe for Polenta with tomato sauce. It involves made from scratch polenta with a spicy marinara sauce and a side serving of kale. I made the polenta as directed but used my own version of the tomato sauce. I really like oven roasting tomatoes with some fennel and then tossing them with onions, garlic etc, so that is what I used. The original recipe is completely vegan but I topped the tomato sauce with a little bit of shaved parmesan. Also for the kale, the original recipe called for a topping of pine nuts, I didn't have any so I used pistachios instead. I was quite happy with the results of the meal overall. I must admit that making the polenta does take some time (not active time though, mostly baking, cooling etc) so feel free to use store bought polenta for a quicker version. Here is the recipe.


4 cups water

1 and half tablespoons (or more) olive oil, divided

1 teaspoons salt

1 cup polenta (coarse or plain cornmeal)

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place 9x13-inch glass baking dish on rimmed baking sheet. Combine 4 cups water, 1&1/2 tablespoons olive oil, and 1 teaspoons salt in dish. Gradually mix in polenta.

Place baking sheet with polenta in oven. Bake polenta 1 hour. Add pepper and stir to blend. Bake 20 minutes. Stir again and spread evenly. Bake until polenta is very thick, about 20 minutes longer. Cool polenta to room temperature, 1 to 2 hours (polenta will become firm). Using metal spatula, press polenta all over to even thickness. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover with plastic wrap; chill.

Preheat oven to 325°F. Cut polenta lengthwise into 4 strips. Cut each strip crosswise into 6 squares. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add polenta squares. Sauté until crisp and beginning to color, about 8 minutes per side. Transfer polenta to small baking sheet; place in oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining polenta, adding oil to skillet as needed.

Divide polenta among plates. Top with warm roasted tomato sauce.

Roasted Tomato sauce:

4 cups grape/cherry tomatoes

1/2 can diced tomatoes

1 teaspoon fennel powder

1/2 teaspoon oregano

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoons olive oil

- Preheat oven to 400F.

- Toss the tomatoes with half the olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika, oregano and fennel powder. Bake tomatoes till shrivelled and slightly blackened.

- In a skillet, heat the remainder of the olive oil and add minced garlic and chopped onions. Cook till softened.

- Add roasted tomatoes and diced tomatoes and mash to form a thick sauce.

- Add more salt, pepper if required along with crushed red pepper.

- Bring to a boil and serve on top of polenta with a little shaved parmesan.

Quick sauteed Kale with pistachios

2 bunches kale

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 large red onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

handful of toasted pistachios

Fold each kale leaf lengthwise in half; cut stem away along crease. Tear leaves coarsely. DO AHEAD: Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Pack kale into resealable plastic bags and chill.

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; sautéuntil onion is soft, about 6 minutes. Add half of kale, packing slightly. Cook until kale wilts, tossing often, 2 to 3 minutes. Add remaining kale and half of nuts. Toss until kale is just tender and still bright green, about 3 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl. Sprinkle with remaining toasted pistachios and serve.


  1. Gorgeous pics, Radhika! I am going to go through your entire archive - everything looks so good!

  2. what a fantastic looks very yummy and creamy..