Thursday, July 10, 2008

Reliving Napa: Creamy Polenta

Adam and I took a week long trip to San Francisco and Napa at the end of May for a much needed vacation. When choosing any destination to visit, we must have two things- beautiful free things to see including nature and architecture AND delicious food! Italy had been our first choice- too pricey. San Francisco was a wonderful runner up. You just can't go wrong with so many cultures blending in one lovely progressive area!

The highlight of the culinary adventure (which is hard to identify with all the great things we ate) was in Napa at a place called The Restaurant Pearl. We both just had excellent meals- simple in their ingredients, excellent in their execution.

When I returned home, I wanted to relive a little piece of that California experience, so of course I went to the kitchen! I figured Adam's dish was the easier of the two to try- Soft Polenta with seasonal veggies and roasted tomato sauce.

This was my first time making polenta from scratch. Wow, so simple! With the addition of fresh vegetables and a spicy prepared tomato sauce, this dinner was healthy, flavorful, and hearty. Polenta is going to show up in the line up more often I thnk!

Creamy Polenta with Veg and Sauce
Inspired by The Restaurant Pearl

  • 1 C. Cornmeal
  • 3 C. Water
  • 2-4 Tbsp. Heavy Cream
  • 1-2 C. Spicy Tomato Sauce (homemade or jarred)
  • 2 Carrots, sliced into long discs
  • 1 Zucchini, sliced
  • Handful Asparagus, chopped into 3" pieces
  • 1 Summer Squash, sliced

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat water to boiling. Stir in the cornmeal and continue to let boil over medium heat. Stir the meal regularly to prevent sticking, burning, and uneven cooking.
  2. The polenta should thicken up to a thick but not solid state. You want to be able to stir it, although the spoon should not just slide right through- it should resist a little. Add more water or cornmeal as you see fit.
  3. When cooked, stir in the desired amount of cream until it is a consistant thickness and delicious! Add salt and pepper to taste if desired.
  4. While the polenta cooks, steam the veggies until just tender. You will want them cooked through, but still with a little bite to them. I believe I started the carrots in first, then the asparagus, then the squashes. It only took a few minutes to cook them all.
  5. Just before you are ready to serve, heat a couple of cups or so of sauce in a small saucepan.
  6. To serve, place a large helping of polenta in the center of your bowl. Pour a small amount of sauce around the edges of the polenta and pile the veggies on top. Eat each bite with a nice mix of all the flavors together!


Joelen said...

This looks so healthy (but we both know with the addition of a couple tablespoons of cream it really isn't - lol!)Nonetheless, I have polenta that I need to work with so thanks for inspiring me to use it!!

Erika said...

Shhhhh Joelen- don't remind folks about the cream! I suppose you could use milk, or just keep it smooth with more water. But what's the fun in that!

megan said...

That looks really good and summery. I love polenta, but of course picky Chris doesn't. That damn man is a thorn in my foodie side.

Joelen said...

I'm back... because You've also been TAGGED! Please see my blog for details :)

Maryanna said...

This looks amazing. I love polenta, and the first time I had it was in San Francisco. DH and I are going there in the fall and to Napa Valley. I'm so excited. Maybe we'll try this restraunt to eat.

That Girl said...

I usually use polenta as a side - I'll have to try it as a main dish!