Friday, December 7, 2012

Polenta with Italian Seasoning

I’ve never cooked with polenta before, and appreciated the encouragement from (no polenta recipe there, just a shout out). When I first filled up the new & larger spice rack nearly a year ago, I found a bottle of “Italian Seasonin”. I suspected that it contained basil, oregano, thyme, maybe a few other spices. Truth be told, I though “hmmm, I’m preparing dishes with each of those separately, why would I want all my meals to taste the same by using the combined version?” Well, tonight was the right time to try the pre-mixed seasoning! I couldn’t find the piece of paper where I wrote down Alison’s directions, so I cobbled together the best of my recollection…

4 cups water, 1 ½ cups dry polenta, 1 bullion cube (I used chicken)- alert: this takes only about 5 minutes to cook- I got the “instant” polenta.

A bunch of vegetables, either roasted or sautéed – I used mushrooms, onion, garlic, zucchini, summer squash, eggplant, and the very last of the garden tomato minis that had been ripening in a paper bag since the end of October. PLUS…drum roll…Italian Seasoning, along with salt and pepper.

Spread a layer of cooked polenta in the bottom of a baking dish. Layer vegetables and any protein you like (could use hamburger meat or ground turkey, cooked)- I used fake steak from the freezer section of the grocery store. Add shredded cheese. Cover with another layer of polenta. Bake until the top is light brown…I once again forgot to look at the clock when I put it in the over at 350 degrees. But the time will vary anyway depending on the size of the dish you use. The vegetables released more liquid as the casserole baked, leaving the lower layer of polenta a bit soggy, which may or may not have been alleviated by baking longer or using a larger baking dish with a thinner layer to get crispy.
Do you have a favorite polenta dish?
I didn’t know that a seafood cooking class I would take after preparing this dish would include polenta with shrimp! And bacon!! Yummy…will make that again for sure.

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