Sunday, January 30, 2011

Polenta with Italian Tomato, Zucchini and Bean Sauce

Late night I was in the mood for some "stick to your ribs" food. I made this dish and it got rave reviews. (And I felt like I had just spent the day on the Italian Alps.) If you don't want to make polenta (although it's dead easy and freezes well) then pasta or gnocchi would also work. You can make up the polenta ahead of time or on the weekend and have it ready to go for a quick weeknight meal.

Polenta with Italian Tomato, Zucchini and Bean Sauce
Serves 4 - 5


  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 14 oz can of No Salt Added tomato sauce
  • 19 oz can of chick peas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  1. Grease a 9X5 bread pan and put aside.
  2. Heat the broth and Italian seasoning in a saucepan over medium heat until simmering
  3. Pour in the cornmeal a bit at a time, whisking until blended.
  4. Heat until thickened (add more cornmeal if necessary) about 3 minutes
  5. Stir in the cheese and immediately pour into the prepared bread pan
  6. Let cool for 30 - 45 minutes. The turn the loaf out on to a cutting board and slice into 1/2 inch slices. At this point you can freeze the polenta for another time or refrigerate it for later in the week.
  1. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium high heat
  2. If using the polenta, heat a saute or grill pan over high heat.
  3. Add the onion, zucchini and Italian seasoning and saute until soft, about 5 minutes
  4. Pour in the tomato sauce and beans.
  5. Simmer for 5 - 10 minutes
  6. Meanwhile, brown or grill the polenta slices in the saute or grill pan on both sides until brown.
  7. Stir the Parmesan cheese in the tomato and bean sauce and serve immediately over the polenta.

Seriously - delicious... (I have got to remember to get a pic before it's all gone...)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Never a dull moment around here (Tips for making life easier in the kitchen.. I can't help you with everything else...)

Wondering where I've been? Well December 28th I fell on the one lone little patch of ice in my driveway while taking out the garbage and I broke my wrist. It's been a real treat... New Years dinner at my house was an adventure in frustration. I directed and mom cooked. She enjoyed it as much as I did. (can you smell the sarcasm from there?)

So due to this recent development, there have been a lot of short cuts in my kitchen. And while I have had to find simpler ways to cook I have realized that these are great ideas for busy people too! Here's a few simple things you can do to help make meal times easier at your house even if you haven't got a gimp fin:
  • Have a food processor? Use it! It can do all the chopping, shredded, dicing, etc for you. Throw the parts in the dishwasher (except the blade - hand wash and dry it immediately and put it away in a safe place) and you're done. If you don't own a food processor, think about buying one if you find meal times a chore. And keep it on the counter. If you put it away in the cupboard it will be more of a chore to pull it out.
  • Buy pre cut fresh veggies. They may cost more but if you're not eating them because you don't have time to prepare them then the extra cost is worth it.
  • Pick up frozen veggies. They are pre cut and precooked so it's less time to the table (just don't overcook them!)
  • Opt for shredded cheese instead of blocks of cheese. Or when you do shred or grate cheese do up extra for later in the week. (this is a great use of the food processor)
  • Buy garlic and ginger already minced in jars. Spooning out a little to add to dishes is so much simpler than mincing or chopping some every time you need it.
  • I'm not a huge fan of canned veggies but one thing I can't live without is canned diced tomatoes (watch the added salt!). Why buy fresh to chop when you can just open a can? I find the tomatoes in the off season are quite tasteless so a good can of Italian tomatoes is perfect!
  • And once again I'm going to preach about cooking once, eating twice and freezing the extra. Nothing is better than having healthy meals already to go in the freezer when live throws you a curve ball.
I have a few recipes in my book just waiting to be added here but up until now typing was a painful activity. Now it's manageable so stay tuned! Did I mention this is my favorite time of year? With the short dark days and cold weather I turn to my kitchen for adventure, experimentation and a little joy! This time of year I'm inspired not just to cook comfort foods but also ethnic cuisine. And of course everything has to have a healthy twist because it's just too easy to pack on the pounds this time of year.

PS. As I go back and use this space as my own recipe database, I've been noticing all the spelling and grammatical mistakes I make. Wow I really need an editor! Thanks for your patience. I'll try harder!