Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Polenta

Second to central heating, (see previous post) cooking dinner in the oven on a nasty sub-zero day is another one of those simple winter pleasures. The kitchen becomes fragrant and bright and downright pleasant. The whole house smells good. My favorite part, though, is that little Zen time you get in between sliding the food into the oven, and sliding it out. I'll relax in a chair with a mug of tea and my cookbook stacks, (or the latest Anthropologie, or Williams-Sonoma) revelling. It's Zen time, I'm tellin' you. The work has been done, all that's left is the sweet anticipation of a hot meal.

This is sort of like ziti, with polenta in place of pasta.

Polenta Bake

1 1/2 cornmeal
2 1/2 cups tomato juice
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp adobo sauce (from a can of chipotles in adobo, found in most supermarkets, which will happily live in your fridge for months, providing great bursts of chipotle flavor whenever you need it.

Bring the tomato juice to a boil with the salt, oil and adobo sauce. Then, slowly whisk in the cornmeal. Break up any lumps. Stir continuously for 15 minutes, meditating on the meaning of life (or some similarly deep and engrossing topic). Pour the polenta into a greased 9 x 13 baking dish, smoothing the top with a spatula. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

Meanwhile:

2 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15-oz can stewed tomatoes
1 6-oz can tomato paste
1 10-oz pkg frozen spinach, thawed
1 4-oz can sliced black olives

Saute the onion and garlic in a little bit of oil until softened. Stir in the tomatoes, mashing with the back of your spoon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the watery tomato juices have been reduced to a nice, thick sauce. Throw in the spinach and olives, and stir until combined and heated through.

By this point your polenta should be set up. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Using a knife, cut the polenta into little sticks about four inches long. This is not an exact science. Remove half the polenta sticks from the pan, and arrange the rest in a regular fashion on the bottom. Spoon about half the sauce over top, then sprinkle with a copious amount of:

Grated mozzarella cheese.

Follow with the rest of the polenta, sauce, and more cheese. Slide the pan into the oven, and bake, uncovered, for thirty minutes. While you wait, enjoy your Zen. If you want to be fancy, you can finish the top under the broiler so your cheese gets all brown and melty.

Enjoy!

5 comments:

Italian Sweetheart said...

ok can you seriously come over and teach me how to cook?? i am so jealous and very hungry every time i read your blogs!! you are amazing!! :)

Kami said...

yum. I am definitely trying this one! On a side note, I just thought I should tell you, for some reason I can't comment on your blog from my home computer. It comes up with a verification screen, but no letters to verify, so I can't post it. I can comment from work though. Very weird.

Mrs. Danby said...

This looks delicious!

katherine mary said...

1) yum
2) can you afford anything in those catalogs?!
3) i keep anthropologie to collage with! hahoo!
4) i never write hahoo!

Kristina said...

I get Anthropologie for the inspiration, and (yes) for bulletin boards and collages. Though I did actually buy a few mugs last month which I've been meaning to blog about. I think Crate & Barrel's stuff is actually pretty reasonable.

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