I love when my garden dictates what I am going to cook. This past week, both the red cherry and yellow pear tomato plants were loaded with fruit, and when that happens simultaneously, we just can’t eat them fast enough. To extend their shelf life, I slow roasted them with a little garlic and some fresh herbs from the garden. At the same time, the basil plant was lush and green, with enough fragrant leaves to make a batch of pesto sauce.
Instead of making the usual pasta with pesto sauce and tomatoes, I wanted to make something a bit different, and perhaps, more luxurious. I chose to make a dish which was an amalgam of three separate recipes I’ve featured in previous blog entries. Creamy and cheesy, the soft polenta, with a hint of toasted garlic, is the perfect base for the nutty and salty pesto and slow-roasted tomatoes, which were as sweet as candy. The richness of the polenta, along with the bold flavors of the toppings, make this a deeply satisfying, and comforting meal, which is welcomed, not only in autumn, but on a summer evening as well.
Polenta with Slow-Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Pesto
Yields 4-6 servings
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, minced
3 to 3-1/2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth, or more depending on desired consistency
1 cup, about 7 ounces, polenta
1 cup whole milk
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons homemade or store-bought Pesto Sauce, or to taste (recipe follows below)
1 to 2 tablespoons Slow-Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, or to taste
More parmesan cheese, for garnish
Micro basil, for garnish (optional)
In a large saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, or until very fragrant. Add 3 cups stock, cover, and bring to a boil. Whisk in the polenta slowly and add milk and cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon until polenta is tender and thickened, about 15-17 minutes. Add the remaining stock, a little at a time, if necessary, to achieve the desired consistency.
Remove from heat and stir in both cheeses, mixing until melted and well incorporated. Stir in butter and heavy cream. Season with salt and pepper.
Top with pesto and roasted cherry tomatoes. Garnish with more parmesan cheese and micro basil.
Yields about 1 cup
1 1/2 cups basil leaves, packed
2 cloves garlic
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted*
5 to 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, or as needed to achieve desired consistency
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Combine the basil, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and pine nuts in a food processor and process until combined. Slowly add olive oil in a steady stream while food processor is running. Scrape down the sides of the work bowl with a rubber spatula and process until well combined. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
*Note: Toasting the pine nuts brings out their full flavor. Spread the nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet, and bake at 325 degree F oven for about 5-7 minutes, until lightly golden.
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- Creamy Herbed Polenta with Mushroom Ragout (daisysworld.net)
- Goat Cheese Polenta with Caramelized Onions, Bacon, and Honey (daisysworld.net)
- Pesto Pizza with Chicken, Mozzarella, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes (blog.luckybrand.com)