Thursday, April 10, 2014

Fried Polenta with Italian Vegetables (Meatless Meals for Lenten Fridays)

Polenta is kind of a weird food. It's basically cornmeal that's cooked into a sort of paste, and depending on the consistency, can be served either as a soft, almost pudding like base for Mexican and Italian dishes alike, or shaped into a sort of sausage that can later be sliced and fried.

This dish, based on the Fried Polenta with Vegetable Marinara from The Pampered Chef 29 Minutes to Dinner cookbook, requires the use of the second type of polenta. I've made it a couple times before, and this time I played quite a bit with the veggies to make it more my own.

You can make your own polenta, but it's also readily available in most grocery stores.

Continue reading to find out how I made this, my way.

Fried Polenta with Italian Vegetables

  • 1 pound prepared polenta
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 ounce finely shredded parmesan cheese
  • 2 small cans diced tomatoes
  • 8 ounces mushrooms
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 2 small zucchini
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste

Thinly slice the polenta approximately 1/4 inch thick.

In three separate bowls, set out the flour mixed with the pepper, the beaten eggs, and the breadcrumbs with parmesan cheese.

Dip the polenta slices into each bowl and set aside.

Prepare the vegetables. If your mushrooms are on the large side, I find that quartering them is the best choice, but if they're small, halving them or even leaving them whole is fine as well. Dice the eggplant and zucchini into large chunks.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in the bottom of a large saucepan. Saute the mushrooms until they are tender and browned, adding some salt and pepper to taste. Add the diced tomatoes and Italian seasoning. Add more seasoning if desired. Last, add  the eggplant and zucchini. Stir, then cover and simmer approximately 15 to 20 minutes until the veggies are tender.

Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet until foamy. Fry the polenta slices, about 3-4 minutes on each side, until golden brown and heated through. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain.

Serve the veggies over the fried polenta and grate parmesan cheese on top if desired.

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