Category Archives: parmesan cheese

Polenta Gratin with Provençal Vegetables

I spent most of the day trying to figure out my new camera and took a gazillion photos of this polenta gratin, of course most of them are not fit for prime time. I hope the photos I post here do it justice, because it is a wonderful vegetarian entrée, a hearty baked polenta gratin filled with melted Parmesan cheese and layered with scrumptious vegetables and herbs. So as a result of struggling with my camera I’m posting my meatless Monday dish just in time for farmers market Tuesday, so you can hopefully purchase some of the vegetables from your local farmers if you decide to try this delicious vegetarian dish this week.


Here’s is another of the best of my photographic attempts, sans fork! This is going to be a busy week and today is the only day I have to spend working on my blog, so here goes with the recipe, the dishes in the kitchen will have to wait. I used several sources to get ideas for this recipe and besides following the directions on the package to cook the polenta, I did my own thing with the selection of the vegetables, the cooking and the layering of them in the gratin. Random question, does anybody have a good recipe for kohlrabi? My husband, Scott just came home from Veritable Vegetable with a load of beautiful veggies including kohlrabi, hmm, what to do with this bulbous green veggie? First the recipe for my gratin.

Ingredients and Directions

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing on baking dish
1 small head garlic, cut about 1/8 inch of the top off the head
1 red onion, chopped in medium pieces
2 zucchini, sliced in rounds
1 red bell pepper, medium size slices
1 green bell pepper, medium size slices
1 small eggplant, peeled and cut in 1/2 inch cubes
4 small tomatoes, peeled and seeded
1 small bunch sweet basil, roughly chopped in small pieces
1 cup polenta
4 cups water
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter or olive oil
2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

    Preheat the oven to 450°F

    Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the red onion, zucchini, bell peppers, eggplant and the head of garlic on the baking sheets. Brush the vegetables with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Roast the vegetables for about 30 minutes, until soft and browned. Remove from the oven and cool. Squeeze out the roasted garlic and mix in with the vegetables.

    In a medium bowl combine the chopped tomatoes, sweet basil and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.

    Bring the water to a boil, add the salt and slowly whisk in the polenta. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring often. Be careful not to burn yourself as the hot polenta has a tendency to jump out of the pan at the unsuspecting stirrer! Cook and stir until it thickens and is cooked through. Take a spoonful out and let cool before tasting, it should be done in 10-15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the butter and 1 cup of the Parmesan cheese.

    Prepare a medium size baking dish by brushing it with a small amount of olive oil. Place all the roasted vegetables on the bottom of the dish, evenly distributing them. Cover the vegetables with half of the cooked polenta. Place all of the tomato mixture over the first layer of polenta. Pour the remaining polenta over the tomato mixture. Sprinkle the top with the remaining cup of Parmesan cheese.

    Lower the oven temperature to 350°F and bake for about 25 minutes. The gratin should be hot and the cheese on top melted. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.

    Serves 6

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    Green Bean, Basil and Radish Salad

    Why has everything gone wacko? Who knows? All I know is that after a couple of weeks of vacation followed by a baking spree that left the people around me rolling their eyes in disbelief and a weekend of wedding festivities topped off by eating a piece of red velvet wedding cake, I had a hankering for my old friends, healthy vegetables. I was so into my piece of wedding cake and I kept looking at my husband’s slice, then I started eying a tray of wedding cake slices on plates that was left on a table next to me and I seriously started thinking, how tacky is that to nab another slice of wedding cake, I mean how often do you even see red velvet cake and it was so good! Plus I did dance quite a bit and must have burned a few calories, yeah right. Anyway, I was left with that sensation of desire for more red velvet cake that I usually satisfy by making the darn thing and eating it! Only this time I’m really feeling the effects of all my indulgences in my enlarging waistline which I couldn’t believe the skirt I just bought 6 weeks ago was tight, yuck! So, it’s back to my good buddies in the vegetable section of my local market. I’m really lucky that I love vegetables because many people don’t like them, my friend Margaret who was told by her doctor to eat more veggies is struggling to eat salads. I don’t have that problem, I just really have a sweet tooth, as we say. I come from a long line of Danish butter loving people, that I really identify with, and for the next while I need to break with that tradition and try not to put sour cream on my beets and things like that. The other thing that’s gone wacko is I can’t get my camera to focus, go figure so I used my husband’s camera and I can’t get that to focus either, must be a problem that’s going around! So, I’m posting this recipe with the most focused photo of the bunch, I will persevere and get to the bottom of this focus problem, I think it’s called get new glasses!

    I’m going to try a few new recipes from ‘The Herbal Kitchen’ by Jerry Traunfeld, this is one of my favorite cookbooks that is of the healthier variety in my collection. I’m starting with this salad recipe and I’m sure they will get progressively less healthy as I go along.

    Ingredients and Directions

    6 servings, I ate almost the whole thing myself, do you think there’s a problem?

    1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
    2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
    1 pound fresh green beans
    1 bunch radishes, cut into wedges, about 2 cups
    1/2 cup coarsely chopped basil
    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
    1/2 cup thin shavings Parmigiano-Reggiano

    Stir the shallots and vinegar together in a large mixing bowl and let them sit for awhile to mellow the flavor of the shallots.

    Boil the beans in a large pot of salted water until crisp tender, about 2-3 minutes, depending on the size of the beans. Drain the beans and plunge in a bowl of ice water, drain again and dry off.

    Add the beans to the shallots and toss in the radishes, basil, olive oil, salt and pepper. Put on a platter and top with the shaved cheese.

    Think red radishes and not red cake! Just be sure to use tender green beans and you will be happy with this combination of colorful vegetables. You can also try different herbs in place of the basil, like tarragon or dill. Goat cheese might be a nice switch from the Parmesan.

    Chicken Paillard with Escarole Salad

    My son Taylor asked me for this recipe for chicken, it originally came from a cooking magazine. This is an easy way to prepare chicken with a small salad. My husband, Scott also likes the chicken and the salad dressing because he ate all his salad.

    4 skinless boneless chicken breasts, placed in a bag and pounded until flat
    1 & 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    2 tablespoons dijon mustard
    1 & 1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
    1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
    1 large head of escarole, washed, dried and torn into small pieces
    1 tablespoon fresh tarragon leaves
    1 small shallot, minced
    1 tablespoon walnut oil
    1 tablespoon creme fraiche
    2 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar
    1/3 cup whole walnuts
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    1. Place the chicken in a pyrex dish and coat with olive oil and mustard. Let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature.

    2. In a small bowl whisk together shallots, walnut oil, creme fraiche, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Set aside while cooking the chicken.

    3. On a large plate mix together bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Dredge chicken in the bread crumb mixture and set aside on a new plate.

    4. Preheat a large nonstick grill pan and generously coat it with olive oil. Transfer chicken to the hot grill pan and cook 4 minutes on each side until cooked through. Cover cooked chicken loosely with foil to keep warm while cooking remaining chicken.

    5. In a large bowl toss together the escarole with the dressing and serve with the chicken.

    Serves 4 generously.