Rosemary polenta cake with olive tapenade and tomatoes

I visited the Dolomites in Northern Italy last year and while I was there, polenta quickly become part of my daily diet which gave me the energy to hike over the huge mountain range.

I don’t understand why it isn’t used more in British cooking. It is so easy to make, versatile and extraordinarily cheap.

This meal makes a fantastic and pretty looking starter as well as a hearty and healthy meal if you increase the quantities.

Ingredients (for two)

Polenta cake
15g fresh rosemary
1 tsp bullion powder
Salt / pepper
Boiling water
100g polenta
Glug of extra virgin olive oil

Olive tapenade
75g good black olives (stone less)
20g capers
1 small crushed garlic clove
½ lemon juice

Tomatoes
Ripe tomatoes
Salt / pepper
Glug of extra virgin olive oil

Vegetarian parmesan cheese (optional)

Method

Chop the rosemary into small chunks and put in a pan with about 100mls of water. Bring to the boil before adding the polenta, olive oil and stock. Mix well so the polenta becomes thick – you may need to check the instructions on your polenta packing as the amount of water needed does vary depending on how coarse the polenta is. The polenta should become stiff. At this stage, check the seasoning (as bullion power can be a little salty), and add salt and pepper if required.

Using a round pastry cutter, form the polenta into two little round ‘cakes’ in a roasting tin and put in the oven for about 15 – 20 minutes.

While the polenta is cooking, chop up the tomatoes into varying sizes and put in bowl with the olive oil, salt and pepper and set aside at room temperature so the flavours have time to combine (tomatoes should never go in the fridge!).

To make the tapenade, rinse the olives and capers and pop them into a blender with the crushed garlic clove and lemon juice.

When the polenta is ready (it should be a little crispy on the outside), put on to a plate and carefully spoon the tapenade on top and add the tomatoes to the side. Finish with a fine grating of vegetarian parmesan.
Polenta cake

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