I spent about four months, starting this past summer, on a strict gluten-free diet. It was a miserable experience for me, not so much that I was upset about being gluten-free, but because I didn’t have the time to figure out what I could and could not eat. I went hours without eating and would literally just stand in front of my cupboards and look at all the stuff I couldn’t eat.
As a WAHM who is also a SAHM until I go to work late at night, I have no time to breathe let alone prepare gluten-free meals for myself. I was also dairy free, which made it even harder to find things to eat, and foods that I could just grab and gulp. I was living off of large quantities of white rice and gluten-free crackers with peanut butter, which was boring and not really very filling. After some web research, I was introduced to polenta.
Polenta is essentially ground corn that’s very similar in consistency to farina. It’s a staple in Italian cuisine and, I’ve discovered after scorching too many pots of polenta, that I make mine like the Northern Italian women do. Prepare to get a work out while making this dish! I literally stand at the stove, whisk in hand, and whisk for almost 30 minutes. This ensures that the polenta doesn’t stick to the sides of the pot, nor does it burn at the bottom. It’s a bit of work to make, but this dish is definitely worth it!
This recipe was created out of a bare bones kitchen and a need to have a carb that wasn’t rice. I had these beautiful, beefsteak tomatoes that were not going to find their way into a salad and a bottle of pesto that had been sitting in my pantry for way too long. I had read a number of polenta recipes online and originally, I wanted to make creamy polenta with sauteed wild mushrooms. But, I didn’t have any mushrooms or cheese in the house. So, I decided to make the polenta as a “kugel” that could be cut into wedges, and top it with roasted tomatoes and pesto.
Another alternative would be to swap out the pesto with olive paste and add kalamata olives with fresh basil on top on the tomatoes.
Polenta Pie with Roasted Tomatoes and Pesto
Prep Time: 25 - 35 minutes
Cook Time: 1hour, 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
A delicious, gluten-free side dish that's perfect for mid-week dining and the Shabbat table!
1 cup polenta
4 cups of water, divided
2 tbs chicken soup powder
2 large beefsteak tomatoes, sliced
2-3 tbsp olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper
1 8 ounce jar of pesto with crushed walnuts (if you make your own pesto, use about 1 cup)
Olive oil spray
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C
Spray a round pyrex and set a side
Slice the tomatoes into 2-3 inche slices and arrange on a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil, kosher salt and pepper. Arrange flat on baking sheet and roast for approximately 30 minutes until soft but not burnt. Take out of oven and set aside to cool.
Combine 3 cups of water with 1 cup of polenta over a medium flame and whisk constantly. Midway through whisking, add 1 tbsp chicken soup powder with 1/2 cup of remaining water. About 20 minutes into the cooking, add remaining chicken soup powder and water. Continue whisking until polenta is cooked, which will take approximately 30 minutes.
Pour polenta into the greased pyrex and spread to cover with a spatula. Spoon pesto over the polenta and arrange tomato slices on top.