Ratatouille & Polenta

What to do with a potpourri of unused assorted vegetables…a couple of zucchini a day or two away from becoming limp, an eggplant on the counter developing more than a few soft spots, some grape tomatoes (neighbors to the eggplant) drying out, and a bulk pack of once-beautiful bell peppers I couldn’t resist buying at Costco?  Ina Garten to the rescue! I’ve had my eye on her recipe for Roasted Ratatouille with Polenta ever since I got a copy of her new book Cooking for Jeffrey, and this was my perfect opportunity!

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This was a very easy meal to put together and I’ve never made polenta before. In fact, I wasn’t even sure I would like it since I’ve never ordered it at a restaurant, but it was delicious! If you’ve never had it before, I would compare it to a smoother risotto, sort of like grits. It took me about an hour and a half from start to finish, but that’s only because I like to take my time chopping vegetables (I find it very therapeutic!)

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Vegetables, after roasting

One caveat…my husband didn’t love this dish and said the consistency of the polenta was too sauce-like for him to consider a satisfying meal. I really enjoyed this though, and found it very satisfying. Hope you do too!

Ratatouille (Serves 4, adapted from Ina Garten, Cooking for Jeffrey)
2 medium zucchini, 1-in-diced
1 medium eggplant, 1-in-diced
1 red bell pepper, 1-in-diced
1 small onion, medium sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
olive oil
salt and pepper
7 grape tomatoes, halved
fresh basil, julienned

  1. Preheat oven to 450.
  2. Combine zucchini, eggplant, bell pepper, onion, garlic and dried oregano. Toss with olive oil (I used 3-4 tbsp) and season salt and pepper). Pour onto half sheet pan. Transfer to oven. Roast for 30 minutes, tossing every 10-15 minutes.
  3. Lower oven heat to 425. Add tomatoes in with rest of vegetables. Roast another 10 minutes.
  4. Toss with julienned basil.

Creamy Polenta (Serves 3, adapted from Ina Garten, Cooking for Jeffrey)
3 cups chicken stock
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal
salt and pepper
3/4 cup parmesan, grated
3 tbsp creme fraiche
1 tbsp unsalted butter, diced

  1. Bring chicken stock and garlic to a boil. Bring down to simmer.
  2. Combine salt (I used 1/2 tsp and found it a bit salty, perhaps reduced to 1/4 tsp and adjust from there) and pepper, and cornmeal. Slowly add the cornmeal mixture into the simmering stock, whisking quickly to avoid lumps from forming.
  3. Switch to a wooden spoon and stir the mixture over low heat for 5-10 minutes. Stop and take off heat when mixture has thickened.
  4. Off the heat, add parmesan, creme fraiche and butter.

Enjoy!

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