Despite its humble origins, polenta was "discovered" by the in crowd and is frequently found at the most la-de-da soirees. Isn't it great when something is healthy and stylish at the same time? How often does that happen?
Polenta is essentially corn meal mush. A bit like grits, really. It makes a wonderful foundation for flavorful sauces and toppings. You can make it at home, and I will do that next time. It is a time consuming process, so for this experiment, I purchased an Italian polenta that comes in a giant tube like the cookie dough comes in. It had been a long week, and I wanted something good, but reasonably quick.
This was our first experience with polenta, and we both knew immediately it would not be our last.
Spicy Tomato Basil Sauce
- 1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes, divided
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 sweet onion, diced (any onion can be used)
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 3/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, finely crushed
- crushed red pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped and divided
- 1/4 cup wine (dry white or red both work well)
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
Heat oil in large skillet or heavy pot. Add onion, garlic, fennel seeds and crushed red pepper. Saute about 5 minutes or until onion is soft. Add the remaining crushed tomatoes, half the basil, the oregano and the wine. Add the tomatoes and pine nuts from the blender. Cook 5 to 6 minutes so that the flavors blend. Stir in remaining basil. Serve over pan seared polenta. Garnish with basil leaves and good Paremsan cheese.
Pan Seared Polenta
- 6 - 8 polenta rounds, sliced about 3/8" thick
- 1/3 cup bread crumbs
- 1 egg, beaten
- olive oil
Adapted from bon appetit January 2010