Parmesan Polenta with Warm Tomato Salad
By Brianna Theus
Over the spring into summer is the perfect time to plant lots of tomatoes! My mom and I always plant them together every year. It’s our bonding time! We usually have all kinds from grape to heirloom. I end up making lots of pasta sauce to jar and give away as gifts. Having fresh tomatoes to create new recipes with is great, but what happens during the winter months when it gets too cold to have a garden? We can’t buy frozen tomatoes like we can with green beans or other vegetables and fresh tomatoes during the winter just don’t taste as good as they do during their harvest season in the summer.
During the winter, I always use canned tomato products. They are even better than the fresh products because they are canned when tomatoes are in season AND they still contain all of the nutrients of fresh tomatoes. They have lots of flavor that can be added to your meals! My pantry is ALWAYS filled with canned tomatoes, even during the summer! I also find them so much easier because you can buy them already diced. I mean, if you’re as lazy as I can be sometimes, then that is one of the best things ever!
With my tomatoes today, I made a warm tomato salsa on top of crispy parmesan polenta rounds. Perfect for your Meatless Mondays!!
1 tbsp olive oil
½ onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup polenta or cornmeal
2 tbsp unsalted butter
½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Warm Tomato Salsa
1 tbsp olive oil
½ onion, diced
1 14.5 ounce can of chopped tomatoes, drained
A handful of chopped basil
Juice from half a lemon
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper
Add the oil to a medium saucepan over medium heat. I like to make mine in a non-stick pot for easier cleanup later on! Once hot, add the onion and the garlic. Sautee until golden brown. Add the stock and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, whisk in the cup of polenta slowly to prevent lumps, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover the pot and stir occasionally as it cooks for 45 minutes. Taste the polenta to check if it is soft, then add the butter and parmesan cheese. Add as much or little cheese as you want, but remember that parmesan is salty! Taste the polenta again after adding the cheese and add salt and pepper if necessary.
Transfer the polenta into an 8X8 pan and let it firm up. Once firm, cut it into rounds, squares, or triangles. Line a baking sheet with foil and place the polenta on the sheet smooth side up. Brush the top with a little olive oil, then place into an oven set at broil 500°F until golden brown and crispy, about 15 minutes. (You can also crisp up the polenta in a pan with olive oil on the stove top).
While the polenta is in the oven, brown your onion in a pan over medium high heat. Add the can of tomatoes, basil, and the lemon juice. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.
Take the polenta out of the oven. Arrange it on a plate, top with the warm tomato salsa, fresh basil, and freshly grated parmesan. Enjoy!
Brianna Theus is a student and soon-to-be RD who loves to bring people together through food. You can often find her in the kitchen baking something delicious for friends and family. Her blog, Celestial-Baking, focuses on healthier recipes with a little bit of heaven in every bite.