You will be tempted to buy a premade polenta. I suggest you resist that temptation and take the time to make your own. Not only does it taste better, but you will feel a sense of peaceful accomplishment once you take your first bite. This I promise.
This was a wonderful dish, one of the few recipes that I am actually very proud of. Simple and lighter than the cheese would indicate.
- 4 cups water
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 1/4 cups corn meal polenta
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
- salt and pepper (to taste)
- Olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 14oz cans of chopped tomatoes
- 1 Tblspoon tomato paste
- 1 tsp sugar
- 3/4 cup Gruyere cheese (Asagio will also work nicely)
- parsley, chopped (for garnish)
Line a 11″ x 7″ baking dish with saran wrap.
In a medium to large sauce pan, bring the 4 cups of water to a boil. Stir in the salt, then add the polenta in a slow, steady stream, whisking in all the while. Cook, stirring all the time, for approx 5 minutes. Add the cayenne pepper and the salt and pepper to taste. Pour into the baking dish and smooth the surface. Place in the refrigerator to cool while you work on the sauce.
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Heat approximately 2-3 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the pepper flakes and allow to bloom in oil for 1 minute. Add the onions and garlic, and cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes. Stir in the canned tomatoes and tomato paste, sugar, and more salt (the salt to taste). Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Turn out the cold polenta on a cutting board and cut into 2 inch squares. Place in a baking dish and cover with the sauce. Sprinkle the cheese ontop. Place in oven for 25 minutes or until golden, which ever comes first.