Recipe: Polenta With Tomatoes And Olives
- 8 oz Polenta
- 3 oz Stoned olives (optional)
FOR THE TOMATO SAUCE
- 1 1/4 lb (generous) canned tomatoes
- 1 lg Onion
- 1 tb Olive oil
- Garlic, bay, rosemary, thyme — (or herbs of your choice)
- Bring 1-3/4 pints salted water to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and add the grain as though you were making porridge: let the polenta trickle slowly through your fingers and stir the contents of the pan very vigorously all the time to prevent lumps forming.
- Cook over the gentlest possible heat for about 20 minutes, stirring more or less continuously – like porridge and semolina, polenta is a great sticker.
- The mixture is ready when it begins to come away from the sides of the pan, is perfectly smooth and so thick that your wrist aches from stirring. Away from the heat beat in 1 tablespoon oil, the stoned olives if using them, and some salt and pepper.
- Use the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to grease the interior of an 11-12 inch frying pan. Turn the polenta into the frying pan, pack it down smoothly and level the top with an oiled spoon. Set aside for a couple of hours until the polenta is cold and solid.
- Loosen it with a palette knife, turn it out of the pan and cut into 6-8 wedges. To make the sauce, chop the onion finely and sweat it in the oil for 10-12 minutes.
- Add the roughly chopped tomatoes and their juices, several cloves of finely chopped garlic and a little bouquet of rosemary, bay and thyme, or plenty of well-flavoured herbs of your choice.
- Let the mixture bubble away gently for 40 minutes or so, just stirring occasionally, until reduced to a rich and fragrant sauce. Remove the bouquet of herbs, season with salt and pepper and add extra fresh chopped herbs to taste.
- Fry the wedges of polenta in very hot olive oil or unsalted butter, or a mixture of the two, for 4-5 minutes on each side until lightly crusted and heated right through.
- Serve piping hot with the garlicky tomato sauce, and with a bowl of olives or grated Parmesan if you wish. In the Veneto polenta sometimes accompanies small silvery fried fish, or a dish of Fergato alla Veneziana.
- Quail or other tiny game birds threaded on to skewers and cooked on a spit, or a saute of chicken livers, and grilled sausages, are other good choices but polenta can be served on its own just as well.
Meal type: supper
Culinary tradition: USA (General)