Sunday, March 25, 2012

Mediterranean Vegetables with Polenta Cakes

I saw this recipe in the Parade magazine in yesterday's paper and promptly headed to the store.
Perhaps you saw it too? Of course you know they had me at the word Mediterranean. I'm pathetic. I know.

Making polenta has been on my to do list of recipes. Do you have a list like that? Also on the list is homemade granola and the Meyer Lemon Bars in the new Clean Eating Issue just to mention a few.

Polenta is just another word for corn grits. In fact the only ingredient listed on this package of Bob's Red Mill Polenta........CORN!

 I knew my Texas raised husband would approve of this dinner. Now you have all heard me say before that corn isn't really a health food. I wouldn't say it is bad for you, but the nutritional value doesn't really rank up there that high! It does contain some fiber, thiamin, and folate but most of the calories in corn come from carbohydrates. There are much better vegetables to eat of course that won't raise your blood sugar. So corn is an occasional food for us.

Polenta is very simple to cook but you can also buy it precooked and save this step. I followed the recipe and added one cup of polenta to 1 1/2 cups of boiling milk. It cooks very quickly. I think it only took 3 minutes.
Then I stirred in a bit of Earth Balance and some fresh Parmesan cheese along with a bit of salt and pepper to give the cakes some flavor.

It will cook to almost the consistency of thick, gritty, mashed potatoes.

Spread the mixture onto a greased cookie sheet. This off set spatula worked great for getting it fairly smooth and consistent.

You want to keep it fairly thick for the cakes. Put this in the fridge to set up.

Don't be fooled by how small it looks. I actually got 15 cakes out of that. I used a small round Tupperware container to cut them. I did re-flatten the scraps to cut more and probably should have put them back into the fridge to firm some more but I didn't and they held together okay.

Just before placing them in a pan of olive oil to fry I coated them in a little more polenta. The recipe said to sprinkle them with a little more polenta.

I added a little Greek seasoning to the olive oil and fried them on each side for a few minutes. It only took two batches to cook them all so it went very quickly.

While the polenta cakes were firming in the fridge I got to work on my favorite part, the Mediterranean vegetables. I chopped up red, yellow, and orange pepper, (I was out of green) zucchini, red onion, and sun dried tomatoes that I had soaked in water a bit, and some garlic. I skipped the eggplant because I just haven't grown to love it that much. At the last minute I decided to add my last sun-dried tomato chicken sausage from Trader Joe's. Go get yourself some of that ASAP if you are blessed to live close enough to do so. The best chicken sausage I have ever had and not greasy at all!

I cooked them a bit of olive oil for about 7-8 minutes on medium high and then turned the heat down to low just to keep them warm until I was ready to serve them. I stirred in what was left of our new favorite find...

The recipe said to add 1/4 cup of your favorite dressing. I had just enough of this left to do so but the vegetables would have been awesome with just the olive oil and Greek seasoning I had put in too.

I also soaked some kale in my mustard vinaigrette and cooked that quick when the polenta was done cooking. By far our favorite way to eat kale so far.

Dinner was served along with some Whole Foods grapes and the last of our apple pear from Trader Joe's. I must say rush NOW to get yourself one of those. INCREDIBLE FLAVOR. Faith was in love from first bite. I am so sorry I only bought two of them. I can't even really describe them.

Oh vegetables, you are so pretty. Thank you for all the colors you add to my life!

I was feeling a bit gluttoness when I sat down to this huge plate of food. I needed to remind myself though that the majority of it was vegetables. That is the thing about eating healthy. I would much rather have this huge plate of food for probably about 500 calories than one large soft pretzel that has about 470 or a bagel with a tiny bit of cream cheese that would put you over the 500 calorie mark!

Mediterranean Vegetables with Polenta Cakes - Parade Magazine Sunday March 25th
I did make some changes to the original recipe so if you woul like it check online. I used half of each pepper instead of one small of each, added red onion,  left out the eggplant, and canned tomatoes, and substituted earth balance for the butter in the polenta . I also left the butter out completely for the vegetables.

1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup polenta plus more for coating
2-3 tbsp. earth balance or butter
2-3 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

2 tbsp. olive oil
half each red, green, and yellow or orange peppers, diced
1 small zucchini, cubed
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, diced (reconstitue in water if dried instead of jarred)
1/4 cup bottled dressing (your choice)

Bring milk to boil over medium heat. Whisk in polenta, lower heat, and cook, stirring occasionally for 3-5 minutes or until smooth. Add extra milk if too thick. Stir in butter and Parmesan. Add salt and pepper to taste. Turn out onto greased pan and spread to 5/8-inch thickness. Refrigerate until set. Cut polenta into small rounds. Coat in dry polenta. Place in skillet with olive oil and fry each side until golden.

Heat 1-2 tbsp. olive oil in skillet and add all vegetables. Cook for approximately 7-8 minutes over medium heat. Stir in dressing and reduce heat to low to keep warm until serving time.


1 comment:

Jenny said...

After I saw your post the other day, I went to Trader Joe's and bought some hummus dressing. But I accidentally left it at my sister's. I'll get it one of these days.