Now that you know how to make your own polenta chubs, here’s an easy recipe for a polenta stack with two cheeses – Parmesan and goat cheese – and two tomatoes – sundried and fresh.
It’s perfect for summer gatherings or for anytime you want to highlight the fresh bounty from your garden (or the farmer’s market).
But, first a little more about polenta . . .
Although polenta has become noticeably more popular in the U.S., it’s still a mystery to many homecooks. It has yet to go mainstream like so many Italian favorites. I confess that before making my own polenta, I’d really only tried the store-bought chubs. I wasn’t impressed and couldn’t figure out the hype.
But now, I’m hooked. Cornmeal (polenta/grits) is a staple in my refrigerator. Course cornmeal’s versatility is endless – eaten as a simple bowl of mush for breakfast or transformed into decadence with wild mushrooms, rich cheeses, truffles, red sauces, sausages and bacon.
In the recipe here, firm sundried tomato polenta is topped with creamy cheese and roasted vegetables – I used grilled eggplant, but you could substitute or add grilled zucchini or other summer squash, roasted peppers, mushrooms or omit entirely. Next time, I’m making mine with a fat, juicy portobello mushroom.
Tidbits on Cornmeal:
- Cornmeal is rich in protein but if eaten on a regular basis, it should be combined with milk, butter, cheese or other dairy products so that it becomes a complete food (by adding lysine and tryptophan – two missing amino acids in cor). Add poultry, meat, fish and /or some vegetables as a source of niacin.
- Polenta should taste like corn. Stone ground corn will gradually lose its taste. To maximize flavor and minimize waste, refrigerate cornmeal in a sealed container and use it within two months of purchase.
2 Tomato 2 Cheese Polenta Stack
This recipe is more about the process. You can make a few slices for a meal or several.
Sundried tomato polenta chub, sliced ½ inch rounds
1/3 cup olive oil
1 – 2 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch red pepper flakes, optional
1 large eggplant (or 2 – 3 Japanese eggplants), sliced ½ inch thick rounds
Goat cheese or mozzarella cheese, sliced rounds
2 tomatoes, sliced ½ inch thick
- Prepare sundried tomato polenta chub and have molded and set for at least 2 to 3 hours before slicing. Slice polenta in rounds about ½ inch thick. In a small bowl, mix olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes and salt Brush both sides with olive oil mixture. Return to refrigerator.
- While preheating grill or broiler on med-high heat, brush both sides of eggplant slices with oil mixture and let stand for 10 minutes. When grill is hot, grill eggplant and cook until tender for 10-15 minutes.
- While eggplant cooks, slice cheese and fresh tomato.
- Clean grill (or wipe pan if broiling), so that the polenta does not stick. Use a spatula to place each slice of polenta on grill; grill until there are grill marks and polenta is hot (about 3 to 5 minutes). Gently flip using a spatula. Repeat. (Note some stove top grills work better than a charcoal grill.)
- When polenta is finished, immediately transfer to a serving plate or individual platter and top with goat cheese or mozzarella so it softens. Top with eggplant, a slice of tomato seasoned with salt and pepper, and fresh basil.
- Serve warm. Depending on the firmness/method to reheat the polenta it may be suitable in small shapes as an appetizer – adjust size and toppings so it does not collapse.