Summery Vegetably Italian-ish Polenta Meal of Excellence

I’ve been exceedingly slow at posting this delicious meal because I don’t know what to call it. I think you’ll agree that I have not solved this dilemma, but am posting it nonetheless. You know about my recent brush with polenta infatuation, so I’m sure this post comes as no surprise. As I have said, polenta is one of those things that is delicious with just about anything else that’s also delicious. But polenta really isn’t the star of this dish. It’s just the only part of this dish that I actually know what to call. This tomatoey stuff, which I want to call a ragu, despite it not really being a ragu, is very simple and very crowd pleasing. There’s something about the zucchini/tomato/garlic/onion combination which I just find incredibly pleasing and refreshing and, when paired with fish, which I did in this preparation (although I have also successfully added chicken and pork instead of fish), this is just my ultimate summer comfort food.

So do allow me to share.

Ingredients include garlic, onion, mushrooms (although I don’t know that they’re vital to this dish), zucchini, smashed tomatoes, olive oil, polenta, and Cod (although any sort of white fish would be great. Any sort of protein in general is yummy in this — I’ve cooked it with pork & with chicken. You could also not add a meat and it would also be great). For spices, I just used salt & pepper. Could use italian-type-herbs, but I find it tasty without them. This would also be great with parmesan mixed in.

Polenta takes about 20-30 minutes to cook, but I like to let it sit to thicken up before eating it, so I usually cook it first. So I’ll start by explaining the polenta cooking process, which happens alongside the rest of the cooking/chopping, etc.

I like a 1:6 polenta:water ratio, but according the the packaging, standard is 1:5. Bring salted water to a boil, and then whisk in your polenta. Then cover the pot, and put the heat on low. Every 5ish minutes, you’ll want to whisk it around to keep it from sticking to the bottom on the pot. aaand 20-30 minutes later, with occasional whisking in between, and you’ve got this:

Just taste it. It’s plain & simple, but so creamy and satisfying, I think. Some people like to mix butter, cheese, cream, whatever into this. I don’t think it needs it. Some people make polenta with chicken stock or the likes, but. Yeah. I think it’s great just with salted water. Super great, in fact. But see what you like!

Okay, I wish I had come up with a good name for this tomato/vegetable/fish stew-type thing. But I have not. Regardless, let’s prepare it.

Sometimes, I find that dinner prep needs to happen in front of So You Think You Can Dance, aka, my favorite inside part of the summertime. Chop up all of those vegetables nicely, please. And if you cry, you can blame the onion — there is no way that SYTYCD is the actual source of the tears.

Heat up some olive oil (I used a few teaspoons, probably) in a pot, and then add your onions & garlic.
Once that smells good, add more vegetables. As with everything I cook, add whatever you want. I think the zucchini really makes this dish, so unless you detest it, definitely include it. Anything else, well. Do what you want. once THAT smells good, add your tomato stuff. I’m extremely partial to crushed tomatoes with one ingredient: “Fresh, Ripe Tomatoes”. There can be a lot of non-tomato things in cans of crushed tomatoes. Since I’m a snob, I think it’s worth searching for the canned tomatoes that are, well, just that.

Add just enough crushed tomatoes to cover the vegetables, and then add a little bit more. Measuring cups? No, thank you. Now, we’ll essentially boil/simmer these vegetables and your Protein Of Choice in this delicious mixture until everything is cooked. Cool, huh? So, as strange as it might seem, just add your raw protein right on top of this. Trust me. Then mix things around, so that the protein is covered by the tomato mash. This is what makes it delicious — the fish cooks in a bath of deliciousness. Or the chicken. Or whatever. If you don’t add a meat, then just cook these veggies together until they seem satisfactorily done.

Fish becomes flakey and easily separates when it’s cooked, so when you can mix the mash around and see that all of the fish is enthusiastically flaking, it’s cooked. If you threw in a chicken breast or something, I recommend cutting into it to see if it’s cooked.

Yeah, that’s done!

I said this was my favorite summer comfort meal, but obviously in the summer, I don’t enjoy eating piping hot anything. Pots, meet freezer. I’m not sure if you’ll get along, so here — we’ll throw in potholders as buffers.

Then, declare these things Cold Enough To Eat, and serve the tomatoey whatever over the polenta. 

But chances are, you won’t want to keep these two things separate for long.

And, if you timed it all correctly, you only missed a teeny tiny bit of So You Think You Can Dance!

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One Comment to “Summery Vegetably Italian-ish Polenta Meal of Excellence”

  1. Call it “Polenta alla Sarah” !!

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