Sunday, July 03, 2011

Vegan Garden-Fresh Ratatouille with Crispy Polenta Triangles

As far as I know, ratatouille is basically vegan to begin with. It's just sort of a vegetable stew and is sometimes splashed with vinegar at the end. Yeah? So I don't know why it's important to label this as vegan, but that's okay.

My beloved Erica emailed me this the other day from a recipe newsletter she gets. It's technically two recipes, since the polenta crisps are separate, but they're supposed to go together so I'm going to include them both. These were both very easy to make and made for a very nice dinner. I loved using all the fresh produce! I don't know if we would make it again, but it was a lovely summer dinner. Thanks, Erica!


Vegan Garden-Fresh Ratatouille

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium eggplant (3/4 pound), diced
1 medium zucchini, quartered and diced
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
6 tomatoes (2 pounds), diced
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, roughly chopped
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon capers, drained and roughly chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add the eggplant and cook for 5 minutes. Add the zucchini and bell pepper and cook for 10 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and cook for 5 more minutes. All vegetables should be tender.

Stir in the oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper, and cook for one additional minute. Remove from heat and add balsamic vinegar and capers. Garnish with basil and serve with Crispy Polenta Triangles. (See below)

Crispy Polenta Triangles

3 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dry polenta
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a medium saucepan, bring water to boil. Add salt. Slowly whisk in polenta to avoid lumps. Decrease heat to low and stir occasionally for 15 minutes. Polenta should be thick and creamy.

Pour polenta onto a parchment-lined baking sheet spreading evenly into a square about 1/2-inch thick. Set aside to cool for at least 10 minutes.

Once firm, slice the polenta into triangles. Brush both slides lightly with olive oil and bake for 30 minutes, flipping pieces after 15 minutes. The polenta will be slightly crispy and browned on the outside while smooth and creamy inside.

Yield: 4 servings

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