Sunday, November 21, 2010

Butternut Polenta with Garlicky Tomato and Kale Sauce

I like to add a little cooked squash to polenta at this time of year, but it's optional. Roasting frozen whole tomatoes is easy and lends a wonderful depth of flavor to the simple sauce; just run tomatoes under warm water to remove skins, then put frozen ones straight into the oven and roast for 30 minutes or so. If you like, you can serve this in bowls with the sauce spooned over the top--or follow the recipe for a broiled version with cheese.

3 cups water
1 tsp salt
1 cup coarse cornmeal
1 cup cooked mashed winter squash (butternut is good)

olive oil
6-7 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups roasted tomatoes
4-5 cups chopped kale
Salt and pepper to taste
3-4 oz. shredded cheddar

To prepare the polenta, bring the 3 cups of water to a boil, add the salt, then slowly whisk in the cornmeal, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the polenta is nice and thick (time will vary depending on the coarseness of your cornmeal and whether you are using "instant" polenta meal). While the polenta cooks, prepare the sauce. Also preheat the broiler.

Heat some olive oil in a large saucepan, then add the garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the roasted tomatoes and mash them a bit in the pan. If needed, add a bit of their cooking liquid to form a thick sauce. Add the kale and cook, stirring periodically, over medium heat until the kale is tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Oil a 10-inch skillet or 8-inch square pan and spread the polenta in an even layer in the bottom of it. Top with the sauce, then sprinkle the cheese over it. Place under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, until the cheese begins to brown nicely. (Alternatively, if you need more time, you can place the assembled dish in the oven at 375 for about 15 minutes.)

Serves about 4.

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