Cooking with Ceci: Polenta: Taking dinner to the next level

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ND-1031- Ceci recipe

Commentary by Ceci Martinez

Take a bland and boring polenta dish this weeknight dinner to the highest level! This simple but incredibly delicious recipe “Tomato, Olives and Capers Sauce over Polenta” is colorful, inexpensive, and best of all is a 1, 2, 3 meal, perfect for the fall/winter season.

Note: Wine suggestion: Vintjs Petite Sirah or Chariot Gypsy, from Trader’s Joe; both great red wines from California that go beautifully with this recipe. More and more studies speak in favor of the health benefits of red wine. The tomato sauce and polenta can be prepared up to 3 days in advance. Cover and refrigerate separately. Reheat at serving.

TOMATO, OLIVES AND CAPERS SAUCE OVER POLENTA

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

3 cups milk

1/2 cup light cream or half-and-half

1 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 cup polenta

1/2 cup freshly grated Swiss Gruyere cheese

2 large onion, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into thin half-rounds

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes in juice

1/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives

1 tablespoon capers

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 fresh or dried bay leaves

1 teaspoon dried oregano

Directions:

In a large saucepan, bring milk, cream, 1 teaspoon of salt, and nutmeg to a boil over medium heat. (Watch carefully, milk will boil over quickly.) Add polenta in a steady stream and stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, cook until mixture begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add the cheese, and mix all well. The polenta should be creamy.

To prepare sauce, in a large skillet combine onions, 2 tablespoon olive oil and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until caramelized. Add tomatoes and their juices – break up the tomatoes with a spoon into small pieces, olives, capers, garlic, bay leaves and oregano and cook, covered over low heat until sauce starts to thicken, about 5 to 8 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Serve polenta right away, topped with sauce all over. Accompany with your choice of meat if desired.

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