Saturday, March 8, 2014

Polentanella (polenta tomato and basil salad) and three characters that seem to be the same

Polentanella (polenta tomato and basil salad) / Polentanella (salada de tomate, manjericão e polenta)

As I was watching Hannibal a couple of days ago I noticed something about Raúl Esparza: I have seen three different TV shows with him and he seems to be playing the same character in all of them. His Dr. Chilton isn’t much different from Rafael Barba, and the latter is quite similar to the ADA he portrayed in Law and Order: Criminal Intent.

I get that not every actor is Leonardo DiCaprio or Christian Bale, but it would be nice to see Esparza playing something different – perhaps he’s just typecast (hello, Ray Liotta).

Changes are good for actors – back in the 80s who could have thought that Tom Hanks would turn into such a talented drama actor? – and it’s good when it comes to food, too: this is nothing more than a panzanella salad in which the bread has been replaced by crispy polenta pieces. I thought it was delicious and with the addition of mozzarella it became a substantial meal, great for summer days.

Polentanella (polenta tomato and basil salad)
adapted from the always wonderful Delicious Australia

400ml vegetable stock
400ml water
200g instant polenta
40g grated parmesan
½ cup (120ml) extra virgin olive oil
450g cherry tomatoes
½ onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/3 cup roasted peppers, drained, chopped
3 tablespoons capers, drained
2 small Lebanese cucumbers, chopped
handful fresh basil leaves
250g fresh buffalo mozzarella, torn

Grease a 20cm (8in) square pan. Combine the water and stock in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the polenta and stir until smooth. Over medium heat cook until thickened. Remove, stir in the parmesan, season with salt and pepper, then spread out on prepared pan. Let cool, then refrigerate until set (about 1 hour).
Preheat the oven to 220°C and line a large baking sheet with foil.
turn out the polenta and cut into 2cm thick strips, then break into 2cm pieces. place them onto the lined sheet and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the oil. bake for 30 minutes or until the polenta turn crisp and golden. Halve half of the cherry tomatoes and add them to the baking sheet with the polenta. Drizzle with 1-2 teaspoons olive oil, season with salt and pepper and roast for 15 minutes or until soften.
Dressing: place the onion and vinegar in a small bowl and set aside for 15 minutes. add the remaining olive oil, season with salt and pepper and mix to combine.
In a large bowl, combine the fresh tomatoes, roasted peppers, capers, cucumber and half the basil, pour over the dressing and toss gently to combine. add the roasted tomatoes and polenta bits and toss again. top with the mozzarella and remaining basil and serve.

Serves 4 generously

1 comment:

Laura (Tutti Dolci) said...

I love polenta, what a delicious spin on panzanella!

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