From Fields of Greens, Annie Somerville, Bantam Books, 1993.
I don’t often cook polenta but when I do I usually find that it’s so good to eat that I should perhaps cook it more often.
For this dish I needed to cook the polenta first. I brought three cups water to the boil and added ½ teaspoon salt to the water. When it was boiling well I poured in ¾ cup polenta, whisking it as it went in. It was now a matter of cooking it for ¾ hour while stirring frequently. While it was cooking I added some grindings of black pepper and a pinch of cayenne. When it was done I stirred in a tablespoon butter and about ½ cup grated parmesan cheese. It was now poured into a greased tray to let it set and get cool.
The tomato sauce was now made. I chopped two shallots and two garlic cloves and added them to a small saucepan to cook in a little olive oil. While it was cooking I sprinkled in ¼ teaspoon dried basil. When the onion was softened about ¼ cup red wine was stirred in and left to cook until almost all gone. Now a can of tomatoes and a bay leaf were added and brought to the boil. They were left to simmer for about half an hour. The tomatoes were broken up while they were cooking to reduce them to smaller pieces. The bay leaf was removed and the sauce checked for seasoning. It needed a little sugar to cut back the sharpness.
Now two cups corn kernels were added to a pan to cook for a few minutes in a little butter. As they were cooking I cut two tomatoes in halves and removed the seeds. They were then cut into pieces, placed in a bowl and a little olive oil dribbled over them and a sprinkling of salt. When the corn was cooked it was added to the tomatoes with some chopped basil and chopped jalapeño chilli.
The polenta was now cut into squares and the squares halved into triangles. The tomato sauce was poured into the bottom of a casserole dish and the triangles of polenta carefully arranged standing up in rows and slightly overlapped. The corn mixture was placed between the polenta pieces. A good amount of grated parmesan was sprinkled over and the casserole was placed in a 190ºC oven for 30 minutes.
I usually find that anything I make from Fields of Greens will turn out to be flavoursome and totally satisfying and this dish was. There was a reasonable amount of small tasks to do to prepare the meal but it was worth it.
Ease of cooking: ✔✔