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Polenta with Summer Vegetable Ragout

It’s best to avoid using purchased vegetable broth that lists carrots as the first ingredient. This gives finished dishes an orange cast. If you do not have vegetable broth, substitute water and add 1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 small Asian eggplant, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced crosswise into strips
  • 1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 1/2 cups canned whole plum tomatoes, with juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 Tbs. salt, plus more, to taste
  • 1 cup quick-cooking polenta
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions:

Make the ragout
In a large fry pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic, eggplant, bell pepper, zucchini and thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and water and cook until the vegetables are soft but still hold their shape, 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to break up the tomatoes.

Cook the polenta
In a deep saucepan, bring the broth to a boil over high heat. Add the 1 Tbs. salt. Gradually whisk in the polenta. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring frequently, until the polenta is thick and soft, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and season the polenta with salt and pepper.

Divide the polenta among warmed bowls, top with the ragout and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Series, Vegetarian, by Dana Jacobi (Oxmoor House, 2007).