At first look, this dinner could be healthy. It could also be vegan if you omit the poached egg. But my version is probably not as healthy as many other polenta recipes, and is definitely not vegan. It is, however, the most delicious polenta (or grits) that I’ve ever had. I admit, these vegetables are vegetables in their purest form, they are pretty healthy. But the roasting and grilling brings out all of their most delicious vegetable flavors. If you’re into that kind of thing. Which I really really am. Except eggplant. More on that later.
What’s great about this idea, is that you can literally use whatever vegetables sound good to you, or that you have on hand. At it’s core, this dish is delicious polenta, vegetables, and a poached egg. If you don’t like poached eggs, you could of course omit it, however I find it to be one of the best parts. It’s also an excellent source of protein. If you like the idea of adding the protein of the egg, but don’t like to eat eggs, you could temper an egg into your polenta, which will firm the polenta up a little.
Here, the veggies I used are:
- 2 Yellow Squashes
- 2 Calabazita Squashes (A Mexican squash I thought I’d try. I liked it. Zucchini would be a fine substitue.)
- 1 Bunch of Asparagus
- 1 Medium Eggplant
- 4 On the Vine Tomatoes
- A couple of handfuls of Brussels Sprouts (Sorry, I didn’t check the weight)
- 5 or 6 Shallots
- Arugula (Left over from making Xoco’s Mushroom Torta)
I roasted the tomatoes, brussels sprouts and shallots individually. The tomatoes I cut into wedges, removed the seeds and tossed with a tablespoon of oil, two teaspoons of balsamic vinegar and a light sprinkling of both salt and sugar. The brussels sprouts I cut off the tough bottom and halved (quartered if they were larger than the rest). I sprinkled them with a little a tablespoon or two of olive oil, a couple of teaspoons of balsamic vinegar and a little salt. The shallots I cut into about 1/2″ pieces and tossed with some olive oil, salt and pepper.
I roasted everything at 450 degrees, checking every ten to fifteen minutes for doneness. I think the shallots took about 20 minutes, the tomatoes and brussels sprouts took about 3o minutes. (Technically my tomatoes took about 40 minutes, but I hadn’t removed the seeds to they were very wet. They might only take 15 minutes–I’m not quite sure. That’s why we check on things.)
The vegetables I grilled were the squashes, asparagus and eggplant. I cut the squashes into 1/4″ or 3/8″ thick slices, and prepped the asparagus by snapping off the fibrous bottom.
The eggplant. I am weary of eggplant. Like most of us have, I have had eggplant that has not been properly treated, and ends up hard and spongy. And horrible. I have made eggplant that was hard, and spongy…and horrible, back in high school. I then didn’t cook eggplant again until it was foisted on my now husband and I through a CSA box in San Diego, SIX WEEKS IN A ROW. It was different kinds of eggplant, but they’re all pretty similar texture-wise.
Eggplant is not a hard thing to cook right, as long as you know the trick. All you have to do with sweat it with some salt. And a lot of recipes out there seem to leave out this step. Maybe the people who write those recipes like that texture. But it is not for me.
I cut the eggplant into 1/4″ wide slices, and placed them on a paper towel in a single layer. I sprinkled with a very generous layer of salt, turned them over and salted the other side, and let them sit for 20 or so minutes. Around half way I’ll kind of look at them and turn them over, and maybe add more salt. Once they are sort of soft, or the bend a little when you pick them up, they are good, and you can rinse the salt off with some water, and set on clean towels to dry.
I then grilled the squash, asparagus and eggplant on my lightly greased Square Grill Pan, seasoning lightly with salt (except the eggplant, which still has some on it from the sweating process). Since it’s a small pan, it took many batches to get everything cooked. If I had this larger Grill/Griddle, everything probably could have been cooked in two batches. (I am an Amazon Associate, if you’d like to buy a pan, please do so through one of these links.)
I placed all of my grilled veggies on a baking sheet lined with paper towels, and put them in a warm oven while I cooked the polenta. My roasting veggies were done at this time, so I could lower the oven temperature.
CREAMY GARLIC PARMESAN POLETAN:
Ok, my polenta wasn’t as creamy in texture as I wanted it to be for this particular dish the first time I made it. But it was absolutely delicious. The taste was luscious and cheesy, but the texture was a little more solid than I had envisioned. I used two cups of polenta (cornmeal), and I should stopped at one cup to see how close I was to the texture I was hoping for before adding more. (Since writing this post, I’ve made polenta again, and I think 1 1/4 cups would be a good amount. This picture is with 1 1/2 cups of polenta, but also an extra half cup of milk.)
- 6 Tablespoons Butter
- 6-8 Garlic Cloves, smashed or diced (I actually used 3 Tablespoons of the garlic mixture leftover from making Xoco’s Mushroom Torta instead)
- 2 Cups Milk or Cream (Or one of each)
- 2 Cups Veggie Broth
- 1 1/4 Cups Cornmeal (or more, depending on how thick you’d like your polenta to be)
- 1 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
- Salt to Taste
Melt the butter in a saucepan, and add the garlic. Once fragrant, add the milk and veggie broth. Let come to a simmer. When hot, slowly whisk in the cornmeal, and continue whisking continuously for about eight minutes. Add the parmesan cheese and mix to incorporate. Taste and add salt if needed.
My husband came home and was able to finish stirring the polenta while I poached the eggs.
ADOBO GARLIC CONDIMENT:
I also mixed up a spicy little condiment that was actually quite lovely, and simple, again using leftovers from making Xoco’s Mushroom Torta earlier this week.
- 2 Tablespoons Adobo Sauce
- 2 Tablespoons Garlic Mixture from Xoco’s Mushroom Torta
- 2 Tablespoons Butter, slightly melted
Mix these ingredients together, and place in fridge until needed. It will solidify a little in the fridge due to the butter.
TO ASSEMBLE THE BOWL:
- Roasted and Grilled Veggies
- Poached Egg (Check out Alton Brown here if you need a quick refresher.)
- Adobo Garlic Condiment
Place the polenta in a bowl. Throw everything else on top. Garnish the poached egg with a touch of freshly ground black pepper. It is so comforting and delicious. It’s one of those meals that you dream about on drizzly, cold, Fall days.