The first staff meal ever assigned to me was polenta, and I was fearless. "Hey Chef, why don't you take it easy, I've got it covered".

First batch, nope, Second batch, harder than Chinese algebra. Third batch, too salty. Fourth batch, texture like stucco but without the flavor.

No fifth batch. Caesar salad for the staff, big slice of humble pie by for myself.

But it's really not that hard. I've blogged about how I like to do it before, and I'm covering it again here, since it's a skill well worth having. I guarantee you'll get it right the first time.

Grilled Polenta with Slow-roasted Tomatoes, White Beans and Parsley

The roasted tomatoes can be made a week ahead and refrigerated.

Serves 4

  • 6 Italian plum tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning or Herbes de Provence
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (plus more for drizzling)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup cornmeal 
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup canned rinsed cannellini beans (white navy)
  • 4 sprigs Italian parsley
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Slice tomatoes in half lengthwise and toss with herbs and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Place tomatoes cut side up on a baking sheet and roast for 3 hours. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature.

Bring 4 cups of water and salt to a boil, lower to a simmer, and add the cornmeal in a slow steady stream, whisking constantly. Slowly stir with a spatula, then cook over low heat until tender. Transfer to an oiled baking dish and spread to 1/2-inch thickness. Refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.

Cut polenta into 2-inch squares; cut squares in half, forming triangles. Pat dry with paper towels. Lightly oil polenta and place on a hot grill or hot saute pan. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes until GBD (golden, brown and delicious)

Shingle polenta on serving platter and scatter tomatoes, beans, parsley, and pepper flakes on top. Drizzle with olive oil.

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