Soft Polenta with Ratatouille

 

I’ve eaten polenta on numerous occasions, and it’s always been so bland and tasteless. When set and cut into pieces, it’s boring, and when soft, it brings back bad childhood memories of being forced to eat disgusting semolina with a splat of jam. Urgh… UK school dinners (or more correctly lunches) in the 80’s.

Polenta was one of those things that I thought I just hated. That was until J ordered vegetarian polenta at The Olive and Grape for lunch. Two things were weird – he went for a vegetarian dish, and it was polenta?!?

The resulting dish was absolutely delicious, so I had to re-create something similar at home. This polenta is far from bland – it’s creamy, cheesy and perfectly topped with a well-seasoned ratatouille. It makes a wonderful vegetarian dish that everyone will enjoy.

 

SOFT POLENTA WITH RATATOUILLE
Serves 4

 

Ingredients

For the soft polenta

  • 750 ml (3 c and 2 tablespoons) water
  • 250 ml (1 c and 2 teaspoons) milk
  • 180 g (1 c and 2 tablespoons) polenta
  • 20 g (1 ⅓ tablespoons) butter
  • 60 g (¾ c) grated Parmigiano Reggiano, reserve 2-3 tablespoons for sprinkling
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the ratatouille

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped into 1.25 cm (½ inch) pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 medium aubergine (eggplant), cut into 1.25 cm (½ inch) cubes
  • 1 large red pepper, cut into 1.25 cm (½ inch) pieces
  • 1 large courgette (zucchini), cut into 1.25 cm (½ inch) cubes
  • 250 g (8 oz) passata or crushed tomatoes
  • 4 plum (roma) tomatoes, cut into 1.25 cm (½ inch) cubes
  • 1-2 teaspoons dried rosemary*
  • 1-2 teaspoons dried thyme*
  • 1-2 teaspoons dried basil*
  • 1-2 teaspoons dried oregano*
  • salt and pepper to taste

* The amount of dried herbs used is dependent on taste and their freshness.

 

Method
1. To make the polenta – mix together the water, milk and polenta in a medium saucepan. Bring to the boil, then simmer, stirring occasionally for 15-20 minutes, or until smooth and creamy.

2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Sauté onions and garlic until translucent. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Add aubergine (eggplant) and sauté for 4-5 minutes, then add red pepper, courgette (zucchini), passata, plum (roma) tomatoes and herbs. Stir well and let simmer for 4-5 minutes, or until the vegetables are to the desired doneness. Season to taste.

4. Before serving, stir in butter and Parmigiano Reggiano into the polenta, then season to taste.

5. Divide soft polenta onto 4 plates, and top with ratatouille. Sprinkle with reserved cheese and enjoy!

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2 thoughts on “Soft Polenta with Ratatouille

  1. Polenta!! Yum!!

    I love polenta, but not everyone’s polenta is good. I tried a soft kind at Sweet Waters Restaurant and it was very good. The corn (meal) tasted so fresh!

    Today, I just saw Ina Garten make some polenta and now, I’m reading your blog post about it. Hmmm…perhaps I would make some soon! :)

    Add some tender roast beef and I am all set!

    • Hi Dory – you’ve got to try this polenta, it’s absolutely gorgeous. You really can’t go wrong with throwing in butter and cheese ;). Roast beef sounds fantastic with it… you’re making me hungry thinking about it (and I’ve just had dinner).

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