My first night in the apartment, I wanted to make something delicious to celebrate for dinner. I also wanted to try out this handy indoor/outdoor grill that I got as a graduation gift.
Since I’m surrounded by so many local markets and stands (see: pea tendril post), what better to grill that veggies? And ever since I ate polenta on vacation last week, I’ve had it on the brain so I decided to make polenta with grilled vegetables with fresh mozzarella and basil.
In case you’re new to polenta, it’s a creamy, soft dish made from corn grits. It was originally considered a food for peasants because it is inexpensive and easy to make in large quantities but it’s coming back in style. I’ve seen more and more restaurants with polenta on its menu, but usually people eat it without knowing what it really is. It’s sometimes described as “corn porridge” or the even more appealing “corn mush” but really you should think of it as a delicious soft little corn pillow because it is tasty and SO easy to make. You just boil water, add corn grits, stir it around for a few minutes and BAM you’ve got yourself some polenta.
Polenta is the perfect pairing for grilled vegetables- it’s a healthy, wholesome dish that gives you the opportunity to utilize all the fresh veggies this time of year. You can re-create this recipe with any vegetables- summer squash, zucchini, etc. To round the whole thing out, I recommend adding fresh mozzarella (because let’s face it, cheese makes everything better) because when it gets sandwiched between the veggies on the plate, it gets all melty and creamy and GOOD. (And I recommend serving with a nice glass of wine- because I recommend serving everything with a nice glass of wine.)
Polenta with Grilled Veggies and Mozzarella
Total time: 35 minutes
1/4 cup corn grits (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 medium eggplant
1 portobello mushroom cap
1/2 beefsteak tomato (or other variety)
1/4 cup chopped yellow onion (optional)
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
2-3 thick slices of fresh mozzarella cheese
Handful of fresh basil leaves
1. Slice eggplant, tomato, and onion into 1/2-inch slices.
2. Mix olive oil and balsamic. Marinate mushroom, eggplant, and onion in mixture for 10-15 minutes.
3. Prepare polenta according to package directions. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. While polenta is cooking, add eggplant, mushroom and onion to the preheated grill.
5. Cook vegetables until tender, about 10 minutes on one side and 5 minutes on the other (maybe longer depending on how thick your mushroom is).
6. When vegetables are cooked, place the portobello face up on a plate. Add a layer of mozzarella, eggplant, tomato and continue this pattern for the rest of vegetables. Scatter the onions around the dish as you like (if you don’t like onions, you don’t have to include them but I think it adds a little something) and serve alongside polenta. Garnish with a few basil leaves. Enjoy!