One of the things I really like about blogging is interacting with people who share my interest in and passion for food. I follow many food blogs to gain inspiration and to learn from other cooks and bakers. For example, the idea of combining polenta and tomatoes came from a fellow blogger, Lizzy, who shared with me her recipe for soft polenta and tomatoes. I would have never thought of that pairing on my own. Polenta, which is made from ground corn, is a very versatile ingredient. It can be served soft, like a porridge, or firm, usually cut into slices. Polenta can be served plain or with added ingredients like herbs and cheeses. I recently discovered that it could also be used to make crusts for tarts. I ran across this recipe for polenta tart with goat cheese and tomatoes from the Whole Foods Market website and I knew that this would be perfect with slow roasted tomatoes.
First of all, preparing polenta gives your arm a good workout because of the constant stirring needed while it cooks. However, as a trade off, there is no kneading or rolling required. The polenta crust had a slightly toasted nutty flavor. It is a healthier alternative to traditional pastry crusts, and it is also naturally gluten-free. I only had the stone-ground polenta so the crust had a little more grainy texture, yet it was also crispy. While the crust had a more neutral flavor, the tartness of the goat cheese went very well with the sweetness of slow roasted tomatoes and the sweet pungency of the basil garnish. Chris proclaimed that this dish is one of his new favorites. I hope you enjoy it as well!
Polenta Tart with Goat Cheese and Slow Roasted Tomatoes
Adapted from a recipe found in WholeFoodsMarket.com
Yields 4 individual servings
4 ounces goat cheese, softened
2 tablespoons chopped basil
1 1/2 cups finely ground dry polenta (cornmeal)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3 cups vegetable stock or cold water
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups slow roasted tomatoes steeped in olive oil (click here for recipe)
1/4 cup loosely packed chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil from the slow roasted tomatoes
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Oil 4 individual-sized tart pans with removable base with olive oil cooking spray and set aside.
Combine goat cheese and 2 tablespoons chopped basil. Set aside.
Combine polenta, salt, and garlic powder with vegetable stock or water in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, stirring constantly for 5 minutes. Stir in the grated parmesan cheese and continue to cook for another 3 to 5 minutes. Cool polenta slightly and then transfer to prepared tart pans. Spread polenta evenly over bottom and up the sides of the pans. Bake until dry and crisp on edges, about 25-30 minutes.
Remove from oven and spread a thin layer of goat cheese/basil mixture over crust. Divide evenly and arrange roasted tomatoes on top of the cheese. Return to oven for 5 to 10 minutes longer, until the goat cheese and tomatoes are heated through. Before serving, remove the sides from the tart pan and garnish the top with remaining basil and a drizzle of garlic-infused olive oil leftover from the slow roasted tomatoes.
Adapted from a recipe from WholeFoods.com
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