Start the polenta before you begin the braised vegetables. By the time the polenta is ready, you’ll have a wonderful topping and a comforting winter meal.
1 cup polenta
1 scant teaspoon salt
4 cups water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 to 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan (optional)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 pound kohlrabi, peeled and cut in small dice
1/2 pound carrots, peeled and cut in small dice
1 medium parsnip, peeled, cored and cut in small dice
1 large or 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice or crushed tomatoes
Pinch of sugar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter or oil a 2-quart baking dish. Combine the polenta, salt and water in the baking dish. Place in the oven on a baking sheet. Bake 50 minutes. Stir in the butter, and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes until the polenta is soft and all of the liquid has been absorbed. Stir in the cheese, if using.
2. While the polenta is baking, cook the vegetables. Heat the oil in a large, heavy nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until it begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the carrots, kohlrabi and parsnip, and then season with salt. Cook, stirring often, until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, and stir together for about a minute until fragrant. Stir in the tomatoes with their liquid, a pinch of sugar and salt to taste. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, for 15 minutes until the tomatoes are cooked down and fragrant. Add lots of freshly ground pepper, taste and adjust salt, and remove from the heat.
3. Serve the polenta with the vegetables spooned on top.
Yield: Serves four.
Advance preparation: You can make the vegetable topping a day or two ahead, and reheat on top of the stove. It’s best to serve the polenta when it comes out of the oven, though it can sit for five minutes. Alternatively, allow to cool and stiffen in the baking dish, or scrape into a lightly oiled or buttered bread pan and cool; then slice and layer in the pan, and reheat in a medium oven or in a microwave.
Nutritional information per serving: 277 calories; 7 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 8 milligrams cholesterol; 49 grams carbohydrates; 9 grams dietary fiber; 743 milligrams sodium (does not include salt to taste); 6 grams protein
From Mary Lynch