Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Who knew polenta could be so cute?!

I can't believe how infrequently I've been posting this month, but I warned you all August would be busy! We've been traveling or hosting visitors every weekend, and random things keep coming up mid-week, too. Not to mention I now have 10 weeks until bikini time down in Mexico, so I've been trying to watch what I eat more than usual. Mostly that just means portion control and less snacking, but I do have to cut back on my sweets and cheese loving habits. All this means that the time I've actually spent in the kitchen hasn't produced too many blog worthy recipes.

This polenta, however, what a fun experiment that I'm sure I'll repeat again. I got the idea on Proud Italian Cook, a blog I frequently am inspired by. Her recipes are always very manageable, but also impressive looking. The polenta was a great example of that... adding seasoning and using tart pans gave polenta a major make over. I'll give you a simple picture tutorial, but really this is a great recipe for each cook to interpret their own way. Have fun with this recipe, and share it with friends!

First, grease your tart pan. I have these cute mini ones I've been dying to use, so I buttered six of them.

Next, chop all your mix-ins for the polenta. I did Gruyere cheese, sun dried tomatoes, basil, and rosemary.

When your mix-ins are ready, cook the polenta. The instant kind cooks up really quickly, and once it's thick you can add your other ingredients. Be sure to season with salt and pepper, too!

While the polenta is still warm, spoon into the tart pans. Smooth the tops, and let the tarts cool. If you're in a hurry, you can pop them in the fridge to hurry the process along.

When the tarts are cool, gently remove from the tart pans. You can serve veggies along side or on top, depending on your fridge supplies and other inspiration. I made enough polenta for two dinners, so we did it different each night.

The first night I did roasted veggies to go along side the polenta. I did a mix of butternut squash, zucchini, onion, and mushroom. It was a tasty combo, but it's hard to get all those different veggies cooked evenly.

The second night was the winner for me. I sauteed garlic in olive oil, then added fresh chopped roma tomatoes. When they had softened and let out their juices, I added sliced mushrooms and kale. With a little salt and pepper and a splash of white wine, it turned into a tasty sauce that really complemented the polenta. I've only discovered kale in the past six months, but it's surpassed spinach as one of my favorite vegetables to add extra flavor and nutrition to any meal. It's got better texture than spinach, so it doesn't wilt quite as much when you cook it. Try it out if you haven't!

Now off to bed... still two more busy days this week, then two more busy weekends to get through. I promise, though, come September I'll be back to blogging more regularly. I miss you all!


Elly said...

It's so hilarious that you did that with the mini tart pans because I was thinking of doign the same thing! I wanted to pan fry polenta but I didn't want to make a whole 8x8 pan of it so the tart pans seemed like a great idea. Too cute! And I agree, kale is so good!

Joelen said...

I love the idea of using tart pans - so creative! Everything looks great too. BTW, did you get the email for the upcoming Chicago Nestie GTG next month? If not, please email me at so I can send you the evite!

Darius T. Williams said...

I love kale...but I'm even thinking swiss chard would go good with this too. Next time try adding a bit of bacon!

Proud Italian Cook said...

I love your polenta tarts Erin! They sound so yummy with what you added, and I love what you did on the 2nd day! You've been making some good stuff here! I'm lovin the grilled pizza, don't you just love how the crust comes out? Guess what, I made some turkey chili yesterday too! We are on the same wave length! Thank you for the link.Technorati never updates, sorry I didn't see it sooner.