I’m always amazed that my appetites change right along with the seasons. It’s clockwork; the last days of summer are turning to fall and I feel it from my first step outside in the morning, when there’s a chill in the air that wasn’t the day before.
Dinner starts to require something more than just a salad + something off the grill, and I’ll be thinking about what to cook at 4 o’clock rather than the relaxed summer schedule that sometimes doesn’t start until after 6…or whenever.
Polenta is often what I make when that fall feeling hits. I’m generous with butter and Parmesan cheese because they are made for each other (face it, polenta would be bland without it), tempered by a happy amount of roasted vegetables. It’s all good.
- 1 each red, yellow and orange bell peppers, seeded and diced
- 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
- ½ red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 3 small or 2 medium-sized zucchini, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup polenta or coarse cornmeal
- 1 – 2 teaspoons salt
- ½ cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
- 3 tablespoons butter
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Combine the peppers, tomatoes, onion, olive oil and ½ teaspoon salt and pepper on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast until beginning to soften and turn brown, 15-20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, add the zucchini, garlic, thyme and balsamic vinegar. Return the pan to the oven and continue roasting 10 more minutes, or until the zucchini is bright green and slightly tender (not mushy).
- Meanwhile, bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a heavy saucepan. Gradually pour the polenta into the water while whisking at the same time. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Lower the heat to a slow simmer and continue to cook the polenta about 20 minutes or until it thickens and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, stirring frequently so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Stir in the cheese and butter and add additional salt to taste if needed.
- Serve the polenta in bowls with the roasted vegetables and their juices over the top; sprinkle with additional cheese if you like.