Seared Zucchini and Cherry Tomatoes with Polenta

Seared Zucchini and Cherry Tomatoes with Polenta

Altered from Creamy Parmesan Polenta, Cook’s Illustrated, Italian Favorites 2011

Polenta

The polenta recipe will make much more polenta than needed for this recipe alone. The extra polenta can be poured into a baking dish and covered in the fridge to be cut up as firm polenta and fried another day.

7 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt (we only use ¾ tsp)
Pinch baking soda
1 1/2 cups coarse-ground cornmeal
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 2 cups), plus extra for serving
Ground black pepper

Squeeze a 3-foot length of aluminum foil into a ½ inch rope. Twist the rope into a ring the size of a burner and place on the burner. The space will help the flames not get too warm under your pot.

Bring water to boil in heavy-bottomed 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in salt and baking soda. Slowly pour cornmeal into water in steady stream, while stirring back and forth with wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Bring mixture to boil, stirring constantly, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to lowest possible setting and cover.

After 5 minutes, stir polenta to smooth out any lumps that may have formed, about 15 seconds. Cover and continue to cook, without stirring, until grains of polenta are tender but slightly al dente, about 25 minutes longer. (Polenta should be loose and barely hold its shape but will continue to thicken as it cools.)

Remove from heat and stir in butter and Parmesan. Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.

Zucchini and Cherry Tomatoes

Olive oil

1 zucchini, cut lengthwise into ¼ - ½ inch slices

3-4 small garlic cloves

Pinch red pepper flakes

1 half-pint cherry tomatoes, halved

Salt and pepper

Parmesan

2 Tb. chopped parsley

Heat a grill or cast iron skillet with grill ridges or outdoor grill until very hot and reduce flame to medium high. Coat each side of zucchini slices with olive oil. Grill zucchini, until marks appear, and flip doing the same for the other side. Remove to cutting board, and cut into cubes about the size of the cherry tomatoes. Heat oil, garlic, and pepper flakes in a separate pan over medium-high heat until fragrant and sizzling, about 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes and cook until they begin to soften, about 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper and remove from heat, added in zucchini. Spoon polenta into shallow bowl or plate, and top with zucchini and cherry tomatoes along with any juices. Sprinkle parmesan and parsley as garnish.