Polenta and Tomatoes by Martha Stewart
I am really trying. No gluten, meat…all veggies, all the time. Interesting food. Do not open a can of peas and sit on the couch eating out of the can while watching the news. That is not interesting. I’m better than that.
I troll the web. Type in polenta…then tomatoes. Up pops Martha Stewart’s “Sautéed Polenta with Roasted Tomatoes” which it turns out is absolutely delicious. I finally, five years after sampling creamy buttery polenta in Romania, managed to approximate that wonderfulness. The polenta is topped with cherry tomatoes sautéed in olive oil, balsamic vinegar and brown sugar which results in the perfect texture/taste/look…it is everything you would imagine—a little tart, a little sweet, bright with the oil of olives, a little salty, would have been ‘a little tarragony but I’ve never used tarragon and couldn’t find it at the local pretty good store. Put the tomatoes on top of the polenta, sprinkle with ricotta (should have been the creamy not the salad kind but oh well) and drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. How could that not be good?
Of course there is a catch. It takes forever to make and it is extremely messy. The good part is that I came home early from work (do not chastise me—I must work 24 hours in the next two days), put on my Scandinavian film/television MOOC and poured some nice (but cheap) Australian wine. Then I proceeded to cook.
I’m writing this before I start the dishes so that I won’t say bad things about the recipe because of the drudgery involved afterward.
Here are the problems Martha did not mention and they all involve that simple corn product—polenta. First of all you need a really really deep pot because polenta bubbles and splatters no matter the degree of heat. And, since the trick to creamy is cooking it forever you can easily splatter a larger area than you intended to clean until next spring. Then the worst part is after you’ve chilled it and cut into wedges the recipe says ‘sear until light golden….’ Therein lays the pain. Polenta does not change to golden brown without a struggle. If the heat is too high it splatters every surface within six feet with tiny missiles of fire and goop, if too low it takes minutes, quarter hours, the whole damn afternoon (it only seems like that). And the recipe makes enough little lovely golden triangles for a feast with your extended family in the Italian countryside. On the other hand the tomato topping is just enough for two delicate people who want ice cream afterward. What’s that lopsidedness about anyway?
There I’ve said it all and I’m not even through with the lectures or the wine or the dishes. What DOES one do with 27 perfectly gilded leftover polenta triangles the next day?