Grilled Cheesy Polenta with Quick Tomato Sauce, Grilled Caesar Salad

by Jennifer

The polenta needs to be made ahead, with time to cool;  you can do this up to a day before you plan to serve it.  You can grill the polenta and romaine while the sauce is simmering.  The polenta serves 6 – 8;  the salad serves 6.

Grilled Cheesy Polenta with Quick Tomato Sauce

For polenta:

  • 6 cups water
  • 3 cups coarse cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 lb. cold mozzarella, cubed
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 – 4 garlic cloves, chopped

For Quick Tomato Sauce, from A Fresh Taste of Italy by Michele Scicolone:

  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 28 oz. can whole tomatoes, undrained
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • pinch dried oregano
  • pinch dried basil or 6 leaves fresh basil, torn into pieces

For polenta:

Coat a 13” x 9” pan with cooking spray.  Bring water to a boil in a large pot.

Slowly whisk in cornmeal and salt, lower the temperature to medium, and cook, whisking,

for 5 minutes, or until it’s very thick.

Remove from heat and stir in the cheese.

Pour polenta into the pan, let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until solid.

Meanwhile, heat the oil and garlic in a small saucepan over low heat for 5 minutes, then remove from heat.  Prepare grill.  Cut polenta into 6 – 8 squares.  Brush each square with garlic oil, then place garlic-oil side down on grill and

grill for 8 minutes, or until there are grill marks and the crust is golden.  Brush top side with garlic oil before flipping polenta over and grilling second side for another 8 minutes.  Serve hot topped with Quick Tomato Sauce.

For tomato sauce:

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat;  add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant.

Add tomatoes and their juices, salt, pepper, and dried herbs (if using fresh basil, wait until the sauce is done to add).

Cook, gently crushing the tomatoes and stirring occasionally for about 20 – 25 minutes, or until thick.

Grilled Caesar Salad – adapted from Gourmet magazine

  • 2 tsp anchovy paste
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 of a baguette or loaf of French bread, sliced (supposed to be 1/2” thick slices, I think I managed 1” slices at best)
  • 1 large egg
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 3 hearts of romaine
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Prepare grill.

In a blender or small processor, chop garlic, then add anchovy paste, olive oil, salt and pepper, blending well.

Brush bread slices, both sides, with this dressing, then grill bread, about 1 – 2 minutes per side, until toasted.  Slice bread in half or quarters and set aside.

Add egg and lemon juice to dressing and blend for 2 – 3 minutes, or until emulsified.

Slice romaine hearts in half lengthwise, then grill, cut side down, for 2 minutes,

or just until grill marks appear.  Slice romaine hearts cross-wise into wide strips.

Toss together romaine, croutons and cheese;  add dressing and toss well.

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