Monday, June 19, 2006

Kate's Kitchen: Eggplant Polenta Stacks with Tomato

This submission is from my New York cooking buddy K. She and I often trade recipes; it's quite addicting. She often has new and exciting things for me to try. Here is her latest with pictures! In her words, "It's a really yummy vegetarian main dish."

Eggplant-Polenta Stacks with Tomato Sauce
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) chopped seeded peeled tomatoes with juices

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • Polenta
  • 4 cups water

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup cornmeal

  • 1 cup (packed) freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter

  • Pinch of cayenne pepper

  • Vegetables
  • 1/2 large eggplant, cut crosswise into four 1/2-inch-thick slices

  • Coarse salt

  • 1 large zucchini, cut diagonally into 1/4-inch-thick slices

  • Additional olive oil

  • 4 large fresh basil leaves

  • 4 1/4-inch-thick slices mozzarella cheese

  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Puree tomatoes in blender. Strain into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until reduced to 3/4 cup, about 10 minutes. Add
2 tablespoons oil and simmer 5 minutes to blend flavors. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

Combine 4 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Gradually whisk in cornmeal. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until polenta is very thick, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Add Parmesan and
butter and stir until melted. Mix in cayenne pepper. Spread polenta in 9-inch-square pan. Refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour. (Sauce and polenta can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover separately and refrigerate.)

Sprinkle eggplant slices with salt. Let stand 30 minutes. Pat dry. Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat) or preheat broiler. Brush eggplant and zucchini with oil. Season with salt and pepper. Grill or broil until tender, about 2 minutes per side.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly oil large baking sheet. Using eggplant as template, cut polenta into 4 rounds. Place rounds on prepared baking sheet. Top each with eggplant, 2 zucchini slices, basil leaf and mozzarella slice. Bake eggplant stacks until cheese melts and begins to brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to plates. Rewarm sauce. Spoon around eggplant stacks. Sprinkle with chopped basil and serve.

Serves 4.

I cheated and used pre-made polenta, the kind in the tube. I just sliced it and it was already in little rounds! Then when making the stacks I sprinkled on some parmesan cheese before the eggplant layer. For the tomatoe sauce I just chopped a tomatoe and simmered it up with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper (since i don't have a blender). It worked fine, kind of a chunky sauce. Be sure to line the cookie sheet with foil because the cheese melts all over the place.

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