Polenta Recipe.

Spinach and Mozzarella Polenta
with roasted vegetables, herbs, and balsamic

Roasting must be one of the simplest of all cooking techniques. It reinforces the idea that when good quality ingredients are used, very little has to be done to them. It brings out the natural sweetness of the vegetables and here this is complemented by the contrasting, oaky flavor of balsamic vinegar. Include as many different colored vegetable as possible, cut them into different shapes and don’t be tempted to cook everything at once.

Polenta (cornmeal) rounds
5 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
4 cups vegetable stock
1 cup polenta or yellow cornmeal
8 scallions, thinly sliced
4 oz. spinach, thinly sliced, about 1 cup
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 oz. mozzarella cheese, sliced

Roasted vegetables
1 ½ lb. butternut squash, peeled, cut in half, with seeds removed
1 red Cubanelle pepper, halved and seeded, or regular bell pepper
1 yellow Cubanelle pepper, halved and seeded, or regular bell pepper
2 red onions, cut into wedges
1 whole head of garlic, cloves separated but skins left on
4 heads of baby fennel, quartered, or 2 medium heads, thickly sliced
A handful of thyme sprigs, stalks left on
A handful of oregano sprigs, stalks left on
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
¼ cup olive oil
8 oz. cherry tomatoes
15 asparagus spears
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 large baking trays, 14 x 9 inches
A cookie cutter, 3-inch diameter



To make the polenta, put the butter, oil, and garlic in a medium saucepan. Cook lightly, then add the stock and bring to a boil. Pour in the polenta, beating constantly, and then add the scallions and spinach. Add salt and pepper to taste, and then continue stirring. Cook as instructed on the polenta package – the time will vary depending on the type of polenta used. Spoon into one of the baking trays and set aside for about 2 hours, or until firm to the touch.

To cook the vegetables, put all the vegetables, except the tomatoes and asparagus, on the second baking tray. Sprinkle with the herbs, o9live oil, salt, and pepper and mix well. Roast in a preheated oven at 400F for 30 minutes, and then stir in the tomatoes and asparagus. Continue cooking for a further 20 minutes until all the vegetables are tender.

Invert the polenta onto a work surface and cut out 8 rounds with the cookie cutter. Brush the baking tray with olive oil and arrange the rounds on the tray. Tope each round with a slice of mozzarella and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes.

Put 2 rounds of polenta on each plate, add the roasted vegetables, and then sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Serve immediately.


Try this with chunks of eggplant, carrots, zucchini, patty pan squash, or sweet potatoes.

• We used “instant” polenta, made in 3 minutes, dropped in the fridge while the vegetables were roasting. Worked great.
• Butternut squash are big, you don’t need much. We only used half of one “medium” sized one, and it was plenty.
• Used regular bell peppers since Cubanelle weren’t at the store
• 2 red onions is a lot. Use small onions.
• Used 2 medium fennel bulbs. It was a ton. 2 small is probably fine unless you LOVE fennel
• We used all dry spices since we already had them. Seemed fine.
• Used large tomatoes diced instead of cherry tomatoes since we had them around.
• The vegetable tray was LOADED while roasting. The bigger the tray you have the better. Pre-mix everything in a HUGE bowl, it will help a lot with homogenizing the seasonings (and help with NOT dropping a ton of stuff on the floor – trust me).
• Round cookie cutters are boring (you’ll see what I mean)
• We think it serves 6

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