Monday, September 16, 2013

Grilled Ratatouille Polenta Stack

Most of what you see here is either from my garden or was given to me from a friend's garden.  Gotta love it!  I wish my garden were bigger, I wish I could grow everything I wanted and I wish I could have my own tomatoes the whole year long.  But alas, 'tis not so.  So, for now I'll take what I can get.

Last summer I played around with ratatouille a bit and really enjoyed the flavor profile.  I also started liking eggplant a little more.  When my friend brought me three eggplants a while back I immediately knew I wanted to do something ratatouille-like but wasn't sure what.  Then I got inspired and pulled this dish off.

This totally hit the spot and was a great meatless meal.  I was a little nervous at the lack of seasoning (other than salt) on the veggies but I forget just how delicious grilled or roasted veggies are by themselves.  They were anything but flavorless.  Then the marinated fresh tomatoes and herbs up the anti even more.  All that sat on top of a creamy polenta cake, giving the dish both flavor and substance.

Grilled Ratatouille Polenta Stack
for the ratatouille:
1 medium zucchini, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 medium eggplant, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 large yellow or orange bell pepper, sliced 1/2 inch thick

for the polenta:
3/4 cup polenta/corn grits/cornmeal
3 cups chicken broth or water
3/4 cup freshly shredded parmesan cheese
1/3 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper, to taste

for the marinated tomatoes and herbs:
3-4 medium tomatoes, diced
2 Tbsp. fresh herbs, chopped (I used basil)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste

Slice eggplant and zucchini.  Place on a wire rack fitted over a cookie sheet.  Alternately you can place them on a paper towel-lined cookie sheet as well.  Sprinkle with salt and let sit about 10 minutes to draw the water out.  Flip, salt again and let sit another 10 minutes.

Dice tomatoes and place in a bowl with vinegar and olive oil.  Add chopped herbs. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside until ready to plate and serve.

Bring chicken broth or water to a boil. Gently whisk in polenta.  Reduce heat and simmer 7-15 minutes.  Cook time will depend on coarseness of the grain.  If you are using a fine cornmeal, it may only take 4-5 minutes.

While polenta is cooking, preheat outdoor grill or indoor grill pan and grill zucchini, eggplant and peppers on both sides until tender.

When polenta is finished cooking, remove from heat and whisk in cheese and cream.  Pour into an 8x8-inch pan, buttered or sprayed with cooking spray.  Allow to set until firm.  You can briefly refrigerate it if necessary.  Cut into 6 squares. 

To assemble, place polenta cake on a plate.  Layer with about 2-3 slices each eggplant, zucchini and bell pepper.  Top with marinated tomatoes and herbs and some of the liquid.

Serve warm.

SOURCE: Slightly adapted from Project Domestication

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