Sunday, February 14, 2010

Spicy Tomato-Basil Sauce with Pan-Seared Polenta

My husband loves cornbread so he was easy enough to convince to try Polenta. As I tried to explain it to him, he had his doubts, but he's always willing to try something new. I love that it is seared with the crispy edges covered with sauce, it's all texture and flavor. No doubt this would be even easier to prepare with instant polenta but I am a purest at heart. As everyone that knows me can attest, I love to use every gadget, piece of cookware or equipment I can. The sauce was able to simmer throughout the baking process of the polenta. The sauce can easily be used on bruscetta for an appetizer or over pasta for a quick week night dinner, very versatile. Enjoy!
Spicy Tomato-Basil Sauce with Pan Seared Polenta adapted from Bon Appetite January 2010
8 C water
5 T. (or more) olive oil, divided
2 tsp sea salt
2 C Polenta
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
Spicy Tomato-Basil Sauce:
4 1/2 C canned crushed tomatoes with added puree (from two 28 oz cans), divided
1/4 C pine nuts, toasted
3/4 C finely chopped onion
6 large cloves garlic, minced
3/4 tsp dried crushed red pepper
1/2 C roasted red pepper, chopped
1/2 C finely chopped fresh basil, divided
1/3 C dry white wine
1 tsp dried oregano
Polenta Prep:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place 15x10x2-inch glass baking dish on rimmed baking sheet. Combine 8 cups water, 3 T olive oil and 2 tsp sea salt in dish. Gradually mix in polenta.
Place baking sheet with polenta in oven. Bake polenta 1 hour. Add pepper and stir to blend. Bake 20 minutes. Stir again and spread evenly. Bake until polenta is very thick, about 20 minutes longer. Remove from oven, press polenta evenly and allow to cool to room temperature, 1 to 2 hours (polenta will become firm). DO AHEAD: can be made 2 days ahead. Cover with plastic wrap; chill.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cut polenta into 4 strips. Cut each strip crosswise into 6 squares. Heat remaining olive oil in large non-stick skillet over med-high heat. Working in batches, add polenta squares. Saute until crisp and beginning to color, about 8 minutes per side. Transfer polenta to small baking sheet, place in oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining polenta, adding oil to skillet as needed.
Divide polenta among plates. Top with warm Spicy Tomato-Basil Sauce. Garnish with fresh basil and Parmesan-Reggiano cheese.
Sauce prep:
Place 1 C crushed tomatoes in food processor. Add toasted pine nuts and blend until very smooth. Heat oil in heavy pot over med-high heat. Add onion, garlic and crushed red pepper. Saute until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add remaining crushed tomatoes, 2 T chopped basil, wine and oregano. Scrape tomato mixture from processor and add roasted red pepper, stir to combine. Simmer sauce until flavors blend. Season to taste with salt, pepper and more dried crushed red pepper if desired. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, cover and chill. Rewarm sauce. Mix in remaining chopped basil.

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  1. That's a fabulous polenta dish!
    Happy Valentine's Day!

  2. I had never even had polenta until I married my Italian husband - I did a baked version, which didn't go over so well - it was a texture thing. So I must be like you - lot's of kitchen gadgets and it just so happened that I hadn't put my deep fryer away.

    I ended up making polenta fries and my husband loved them!

  3. Beautiful blog.
    I like this recipe.
    See soon.

  4. Pan seared polenta sounds terrific and especially with the spicy sauce - my husband would love that!

  5. I love this sauce. Pine nuts are a great addition. Thanks so much for stopping by my site. I'll be back again soon.

  6. Thank you so much for coming to my blog to comment, you are too kind. I am thrilled to have found your blog as I LOVE it! I will be adding you to my blogroll if that is ok with you. Wow, who can resist polenta? I adore it with a delicious sauce such as this. I definitely need to make polenta more often.

  7. This dish sounds wonderful! A little Parmesan cheese would be a great addition to the polenta!
    Great recipe!

  8. Thank you all, you are too kind! Jennie, great idea, will do for sure :)


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