Thursday, August 8, 2013

Polenta with Roasted Red Peppers and Cheese

Four ingredients folks, dinner doesn't get easier than this. If you want even more convenience, use bottled roasted bell peppers. If you'd like to make the recipe a touch more home-made, chop up fresh tomatoes and prepare polenta from scratch.

  • 3 large red bell peppers
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can whole tomatoes
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 (16-ounce) tube polenta
  • 1 and 1/4 cups shredded vegan cheese*
  • Fresh basil (optional for garnish)
1. Cut the bell peppers in half lengthwise, and discard any seeds and membranes.  Place the pepper halves, skin sides up, on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.  Flatten with your hand.  Broil for 10 minutes, then transfer to a zip-top plastic bag and seal; let stand for 15 minutes.  Peel off the skins and cut the bell peppers into strips.

2. Drain the tomatoes in a sieve over a bowl, reserving the liquid.  Chop the tomatoes, and add to a large skillet heated over medium-low heat.  Cook for 1 minute.

3. Gradually add the tomato liquid, and simmer for 1 minute.  Add the bell pepper strips and simmer for 5 minutes.

4. Spread 1/4 cup of this pepper sauce into the bottom of a 13x9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.  Cut the polenta tube into 12 slices, and arrange the slices evenly over the pepper sauce.

5. Spread with the remaining pepper sauce, and sprinkle with the cheese, then bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Divide into 6 portions to serve. Fresh basil makes a lovely garnish.

*I used Daiya's mozzarella shreds, which are similar to a melty cheese like Fontina. With so many options on the market now, feel free to choose whichever you prefer!

Nutrition Info:
6 servings (1 portion), Calories 187

Tasting Notes:
Simple but quite good. Roasting the bell peppers brings out their natural sweetness, which pairs beautifully with the savory tomatoes and gooey cheese on top. Tube polenta will never be as fresh or flavorful as the homemade kind (particularly if you cook the grains in a mix of non-dairy milk and vegetable broth), so I would take the extra effort and make a batch from scratch next time. For almost no extra effort, I would also chop up the basil and make it part of the sauce next time, rather than just a garnish, or add other herbs like oregano or rosemary. 


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