Photo by: Joseph De Leo
It wasn't until I started writing this book that I tried precooked polenta sold in tubes. Even though I'd noticed it in the refrigerated case at the grocery store, along with all the packages of fresh pasta, I always thought, "Why bother when it's so easy to make from scratch?" For quick weeknight meals and fast grilling, though, it's a great product: It takes less than five minutes to slip it out of the package, slice it, and brush it with olive oil. To dress it up, I grill sweet red peppers and onions and top with some grated Parmesan.
Yield: Serves 5
- 1 tube (18 ounces) precooked polenta, such as San Gennaro brand (see cook's note)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher or sea salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 2 red bell peppers, quartered lengthwise, seeded, and deribbed
- 1 large walla walla or other sweet onion, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
- 1/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
Prepare a hot fire in a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill on high.
Trim off the irregular ends and slice the polenta into ten 1/2 -inch-thick slices. Arrange on a rimmed baking sheet. Generously brush the slices on both sides with olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Brush the peppers and onions with olive oil, coating them lightly.
Oil the grill grate. Arrange the polenta slices directly over the hot fire and grill, turning once, until they have grill marks etched across both sides, 8 to 10 minutes total.
While the polenta is grilling, arrange the peppers and onions directly over the hot fire and grill, turning once, until the edges begin to char and the peppers and onions are tender but still firm, about 5 minutes total. (Use tongs and a spatula to turn the onion slices.)
To serve, cut the peppers into thin strips, and slice the onion rounds in half. Arrange 2 polenta slices, slightly overlapping them, on each plate and top with some peppers and onions. Sprinkle with the cheese and serve immediately.
If you prefer to make your own polenta, here's a quick and easy cooking method: Combine 1 1/2 cups polenta, 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, and 6 cups water or canned low-sodium chicken broth in a large, microwave-safe bowl. Cover and microwave on high for 10 minutes. Stir well, cover, and continue to microwave on high for another 5 minutes. Spread the hot polenta evenly on a buttered large, rimmed baking sheet, forming a rectangle 1/2 inch thick. Let cool, cover, and refrigerate until set, about 1 hour. Cut into squares and grill.