Roasted Vegetables and Parmesan Polenta

Roasted Vegetables and Parmesan Polenta

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.

Roasted Vegetables and Parmesan Polenta

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.
  4. Serve the polenta in bowls with the roasted vegetables and their juices over the top; sprinkle with additional cheese if you like.
http://familystylefood.com/2012/09/roasted-vegetables-and-parmesan-polenta/

Roasted Vegetable & Barley Salad

In the spirit of the season, I’m revisiting one of my go-to recipes that makes the best of summer produce. This barley salad with roasted Mediterranean vegetables is a great choice for sharing with family and friends at picnics, potlucks or parties over the next few summer months.

I originally posted this recipe in 2007, and haven’t really changed much except to simplify and punch up the flavor a little.

Happy summer!

Roasted Vegetable & Barley Salad

Serving Size: 6 - 8 side dish servings

I like to arrange some arugula or baby spinach leaves on the bowl or platter before piling on the barley mixture.

Make ahead note: Salad can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Return to room temperature before serving.

Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds eggplant, diced

4 cups cherry tomatoes, halved (2 pint containers)

1 orange or yellow bell pepper, chopped

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 red onion, chopped

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 1/4 cups pearl barley

3 cups water

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic

1 teaspoon honey or agave nectar

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

1/2 cup crumbled goat feta cheese

Arugula or baby spinach leaves; a few handfuls

Instructions

  1. Put rack in middle of oven and preheat to 425°F.
  2. Toss eggplant, tomatoes and bell pepper with 2 tablespoons oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast vegetables until eggplant is golden brown and tender and tomatoes are shriveled, stirring halfway through, about 25 minutes.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 3- to 4-quart heavy pot over moderately high. Add the onion and cook until softened. Add the cumin, coriander, cayenne and 1/2 teaspoon salt, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add barley and cook, stirring until well coated with oil for 1 minute more. Add water and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until all of liquid is absorbed and barley is tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Transfer barley to baking pan with roasted vegetables and spread to cool, about 20 minutes.
  5. Whisk together lemon juice, garlic, honey, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and oil; pour over the barley and vegetables along with the basil and feta; mix together, and transfer to a serving bowl or platter.
  6. I like to arrange some arugula or baby spinach leaves on the bowl or platter before piling on the barley mixture.
  7. Make ahead note: Salad can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Return to room temperature before serving.
http://familystylefood.com/2011/07/roasted-vegetable-barley-salad/

Cool Spicy Cucumbers with Peanuts & Lime

Cucumber and lime. Just the thought of those two ingredients refreshes me. Plus they go together like …. bread and butter, gin and tonic, sugar and spice.

It’s hotter than an Inferno where I live, which is typical. We went straight from our schizophrenic spring weather to a sweltering heatwave within a week’s time. Ready or not, it’s time to let the season guide my menu cravings.

I turned to one of my favorite hot-weather flavor profiles – tart citrus; fresh, spicy chiles and cool-crunchy cucumbers. To me, that combination points in the direction of Asia and India.

I found the perfect recipe for what I had in mind with this Indian cucumber salad, Khamang Kakdi, in How to Cook Indian, one of my newest cookbooks. I think this book will become a definite favorite of mine. It’s huge, with a broad collection of easy and delicious-sounding recipes. There are no photos at all, but somehow that isn’t a problem since the information is so thorough and the design so appealing.

I love the utter simplicity of this salad. With just a few spices, a hit of citrus, toasty peanuts and a sweet exotic touch of coconut, cucumbers are transformed into something complex and unordinary.

Be warned, it’s a slightly addictive little salad.

Cool Spicy Cucumbers with Peanuts & Lime

Serving Size: serves 4

Ingredients

1 English cucumber, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 4 cups)

1 Serrano pepper or 2 jalapenos, finely chopped

1/2 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, finely chopped or pulsed in a food processor

1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons roasted peanut oil (or olive oil)

1/2 teaspoon brown mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste

Instructions

  1. Put the cucumber, chile pepper, peanuts, 2 tablespoons of the coconut, lime juice and sugar in a large bowl.
  2. Heat the oil in a small saute pan. Add the mustard seeds. When they start to sizzle and pop, stir in the cumin, salt and remaining 2 tablespoons coconut. Turn off the heat.
  3. Pour the mustard seed mixture over the cucumbers and toss everything together. Taste to make sure it's salty-sweet enough for your taste.

Notes

Adapted from a recipe in How to Cook Indian by Sanjeev Kapoor

http://familystylefood.com/2011/06/cool-spicy-cucumbers-with-peanuts-lime/