Friday, 27 September 2013

A Polentiful Supper!

Polenta al Forno con Verdure Miste, Pancetta, Pomodorini & Mozzarella
Baked Mixed-Vegetable Polenta with Bacon, Tomato & Mozzarella

So, I have finally managed to make it through the week and I am indeed leaving for Rome tomorrow... oh my! And who would have thought, that with my stubbornness to insist on not buying any more groceries and on emptying my fridge before leaving... that I would come up with a truly delicious and comforting meal like this on my last night?!? Not I!!!

I had 2 small carrots, 2 parsnips, 2 potatoes, 2 Spring onions, a generous handful of chopped bacon and a few assorted herbs left over. And obviously the cherry tomatoes, Oh, and a solitary ball of Mozzarella I had somehow overseen using. And a stick of celery ;-) "Add these together with a little polenta and you can make some kind of a meal" I thought... and yes I was right, but I never thought it would be this good!

I started off by dicing all of the vegetables except the potatoes and browning them, together with the bacon in a frying pan. Obviously there was no need for added oil or fat as the bacon brought plenty with it. And in the meantime, I pricked and steamed the 2 potatoes- jabbing them with a fork will let them cook more quickly :-)

As soon as the bacon and vegetables began to brown, I seasoned them with salt, pepper, a little paprika, a pinch of cayenne and a generous grating of fresh nutmeg. I then added enough milk to the pan to cover everything and stirred-up all of the good, rich flavors. As soon as the bottom of the pan was clean and nothing was sticking, I added enough boiling water to cover everything by about an inch and then stirred-in 3 tablespoons of polenta. I checked the seasoning, reduced the heat to a low simmer, and stirring only occasionally, turned my attention to the cherry tomatoes...

The cherry tomatoes needed to be lightly glazed and partially cooked before adding them and so I briefly sautéed them in a little olive oil, with a sprinkle of salt, pepper and sugar. I rolled them back and forth in the hot pan for 3-4 minutes and set them to one side- that was all that it took and at that point I was ready to start assembling the polenta.

By now the potatoes were done, so I quickly mashed them and added them to the polenta, along with half of the mozzarella, which I cut into a rough dice. I then stirred and stirred and stirred, until the mozzarella melted and began to stretch into what looked like a spiders web in the mix... sticky but fun! The cool thing was though, that it didn't stick to the pan and was indeed pretty easy to handle. 

I then added a good handful of chopped parsley, chives and basil, a little more milk, a drizzle of olive oil and then checked the seasoning for salt, pepper and nutmeg... it was just delicious! Of course the bacon and vegetables had added a lot of flavor of their own! 

So, I turned on my oven to get it nice and warm and ready, then lined a baking dish with paper, which I lightly rubbed with a little olive oil. I then poured the mixture into the dish and smoothed it out evenly. Next thing, was to tear-up the remaining mozzarella and press it into the polenta here and there, at nice, regular spaces all around. I then poked little spaces here and there with a teaspoon that I could carefully drop the tomatoes into, then sprinkled a little more pepper and nutmeg on top and kissed my little creation goodbye for 30 minutes at 300°F. I still had my suitcase to pack!

Half an hour later, the polenta was looking pretty spectacular, but an additional 2-3 minutes under the broiler made it look better still! Oh and the smell was terrific too! It was just to HOT! It was almost painful having to wait for it to cool down enough to serve!

I enjoyed mine hot and soft, but I am sure this would be a great treat served up a day later and firm enough to slice. Either way, it is a good, simple, honest Autumn meal and I hope you try it out for yourselves!

I shall catch up with you all in 6 days time! Arrivederci!


  1. hummmmmmmmmm! sieht so lecker aus ^^

    1. Danke lieber Leser/Leserin! Freut mich sehr das es euch auch gefällt! Viele Grüße, Francesco