Friday, May 29, 2009

A Return From Italy and a Roasted Red Pepper Polenta

Now that I have returned from my whirlwind tour of Italy, I think it’s now my duty to share some great Italian recipes with you!

First and foremost on my ‘to do’ list is to learn how to make handmade pasta. I have had this on my list for MONTHS and still have yet to just buckle down in the kitchen one day and get to it. For now, you will have to settle for my newest favorite dish, polenta.

I didn’t grow up on polenta. In fact, I never even knew what it was up until a few years ago. I thought it looked so good when I saw cooks make it on the food network so I tried it. I didn’t like it.

But eventually, after trying it at a fabulous restaurant near my house, I began to really love it. I think my problem was using plain corn meal. Nothing against plain ol’ cornmeal (It makes a mean corn bread) but it’s just not my choice for polenta. I can’t figure out why…they really are basically the same thing!

Regardless, after purchasing a bag that said ‘polenta’ grain on it, I instantly fell in love with this ancient Italian peasant dish.

So here you are—straight from Northern Italy…

P.S. I'll try to post more pictures of Italy soon.

Isola Bella, Lake Maggiore Italy

Roasted Red Pepper Polenta
Serves: 2 as a side dish

½ cup polenta grain
1 cup low fat milk
1 cup half and half
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ cup fontina cheese or gruyere, shredded and divided
¼ cup roasted red peppers, diced
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
½ teaspoon fleur de sel or any fine sea salt
Olive oil

Bring milk and half and half to a simmer. Add Fleur de sel. Then add polenta in a steady stream while whisking. Cover and cook on low stirring the mixture frequently for about 6-10 minutes (depending on which grains you buy—mine cook in this time frame). Remove from the heat and stir in the butter, and cheese (reserve a bit for garnish). Then stir in the roasted red peppers. Top with toasted pine nuts, cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.


Rebekah said...

You are amazing....want to be our personal chef? :)

I want to see more pictures!!

Sweet as Coco said...

HA! You are too sweet! I would love to cook for you Ben and your "soon to be" sweet baby boy!!

Jessica said...

I adore polenta - I think it's super yummy. Can't wait to hear about the rest of your trip.
Oh, I've been meaning to embark on the homemade pasta thing for months, too. I've made it in the past but just once or twice. I would love to really get the hang of it.

Coco Bean said...

Welcome back! I also love polenta but have been putting off making it for a while.