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May 2005 Issue
Seared Polenta with Spicy Tomato Sauce
by Ronda L. Halpin
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When people think about being rushed in the middle of the week and not having time to make dinner, they often think about a frozen pizza or calling for Chinese take-out. I'll even admit that I've done the same. However, with a few items in your pantry and a little creativity, you can have a healthy, hot dinner on the table in less than a half hour. The key is stocking your pantry in advance and having quick and easy recipes like the one featured this month on hand.

This month's recipe takes advantage of a couple of convenience items that are easy to store in your pantry and have on hand for a busy weeknight. The combination of prepared polenta in a tube and a can of petite diced tomatoes makes this dinner dish a snap. If you can't find the petite diced tomatoes, you can use regular diced tomatoes and use a knife to cut the tomatoes into smaller pieces.

Brushing the sliced polenta with a seasoned olive oil will give it a subtle flavor and allow it to take on a beautiful golden color when it's seared. The rest of the seasoned olive oil is used to saute onions and some crushed red pepper flakes give the simple tomato sauce in this dish an extra kick. If you prefer a milder sauce, either reduce the amount of crushed red pepper flakes or omit them altogether.

While this dish can stand on its own, I recommend a few breadsticks in a basket to dip in the sauce and a glass of your favorite wine. If you want to add a green salad, you can even use this recipe for some fun mid-week entertaining. So add tube polenta and canned petite diced tomatoes to your grocery list and you'll be on your way to a great meal when you're in a rush.


Seared Polenta with Spicy Tomato Sauce

  • 3 T. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. Italian herbs
  • 1 tube prepared polenta, sliced into 12 slices
  • 2 T. finely diced onion
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Goat cheese (optional)
In a custard cup or other small bowl, combine the olive oil, salt, black pepper, red pepper and Italian herbs. Brush the oil mixture on the polenta slices and set aside. Reserve the remaining oil.

In a saucepan, heat the remaining oil over medium heat. Saute the onion until golden. Add the crushed red pepper flakes and undrained tomatoes and cook for 10-15 minutes over medium heat until the sauce is thickened and bubbly. Season to taste with the salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium high heat. Add the polenta slices and cook for 2-3 minutes per side, searing until they are a golden color.

To serve, spoon some of the sauce into the bottom of a shallow serving dish. Arrange 3 slices of polenta over the sauce and, if desired, crumble some goat cheese over the top before serving.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 25 minutes

As always, I encourage you to share your recipe ideas and comments. You can always post comments in the discussion board using the forms provided in the articles or email me directly at . Enjoy!

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