This tasty meal is done in no time, is gluten free and makes a lovely starter or even main. You can buy the readymade polenta in your high street supermarket for close to nothing. It is also great to keep a couple packets in your pantry for the days where you want a quick meal.
In Austria, polenta is a common ingredient, used either creamed or as block, since I lived in the UK I haven’t had it as much, mainly because it doesn’t seem to appear as popular or perhaps not as known. I stumbled across it one day and since then use it much more frequently.
The ingredients are something everyone has in their home, most likely, so it is perfect for adding a twist to common ingredients. I use Austrian pumpkin seed oil to drizzle over it, it is possible to get it around the world but it might be tricky to find. Health food stores might stock it but you can also order it online. It is cold pressed oil that it is great on salads and has an amazing flavour. Yes, I am totally bias on this one.
Ingredients to make 4:
- 1 packet of readymade polenta
- 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
- 1 tsp chili flakes
- 2-3 dashes of Worcester sauce (or substitute for vegan version)
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 dash balsamic vinegar
- 1 red onion
- 1 tbs butter (or vegan margarine)
- 5-6 cherry tomatoes halved or quartered
- 3 tbs Olive oil
- 1 tsp mixed herbs
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1-2 spring onions
- Fresh basil leaves
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tbs pumpkin seed oil
Let’s start with the spicy tomato sauce. You will need a pan and keep it on a low heat. Chop the red onion finely, add butter to the pan and once melted, add the red onions. Turn up the heat, add sugar and let the onions caramelise for a few minutes. Keep an eye on it as we don’t want them to burn.
Add the chili flakes and give it a stir, leave for another minute then add the tin of chopped tomatoes and also about half a tin of water. Keep the pan on a medium heat. Add Worcester sauce, balsamic, smoked paprika and the cherry tomatoes. The sauce should now have a deep red colour. Turn the heat on low and let the excess water evaporate. It should usually take about 10-15 minutes, give it a stir every so often.
The marinade is super simple. Add olive oil, mixed herbs, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix. Cut the block of polenta into 8 slices and evenly coat each slice in the marinade.
Heat up a skillet pan and make sure it is very hot before placing the polenta on it. This will ensure you get the lovely charred lines on it. You won’t need any oil as the marinated slices already have all the oil you need.
Give each slice about 5 minutes before checking. Moving it too much about won’t give them the lovely charring we are looking for. It also depends on the thickness you have cut it but 5-7 minutes on each side should be sufficient when cut thinly.
When the tomato sauce has evaporated most of the excess water and thickened up to a nice chunky sauce, it is time to dish up.
The picture has 2 portions on it, because it looked nicer, but 2 per person should be sufficient as starter and you can add more if you have it as a main.
Garnish with basil and spring onions, bon appétit.