Category Archives: roma tomatoes

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


    Roasted Tomato Soup with Spaghetti Squash and Mint Pesto

    The evenings have turned cool here this week which signals the end of our Indian Summer tomato season. I like to roast tomatoes because they smell and taste good but also because they are easy and rewarding to prepare. I decided to use my roast tomatoes in a soup with a delicious fall vegetable, spaghetti squash which works great because you can roast the tomatoes and the squash at the same time. I also have an herb container overflowing with mint that I have been trying to think of ways to use. I like the addition of the mint pesto to the soup, it gives it a little fresh color and some nice mint flavor as well.


    3 pounds Roma tomatoes
    4 tablespoons olive oil
    3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
    1 & 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
    1 & 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped thyme
    1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
    3 shallots, sliced
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    1. Slice the tomatoes in half and place the cut side up on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush the tomatoes with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with the garlic, herbs, salt and pepper. Roast the tomatoes and the squash at the same time in a 400 degree oven until brown and tender. Set aside and cool slightly.

    2. In a heavy medium size pot saute the shallots in one tablespoon of olive oil for about 5 minutes until tender. Set aside to add to the tomatoes.

    3. Transfer the tomatoes and the shallots to a blender or food processor and process until slightly chunky, then pass them through a food mill or strainer into a large bowl. Season with more salt and pepper if needed. Place the tomato mixture back in the pot and add some vegetable or chicken stock if you want to thin the soup. I added about one cup of chicken stock to my tomato soup.

    4. Simmer the soup for 10-15 minutes while making the mint pesto.

    mint pesto

    1 cup fresh mint
    1/4 cup toasted walnuts
    1/4 cup olive oil
    1 small clove garlic, minced
    Sea salt

    1. Blend ingredients together in a food processor until a coarse puree forms. You will need to stop and scrape down the sides a few times. Season with salt.

    Using two forks separate the strands of spaghetti squash and mound up in the center of a soup bowl. Ladle the tomato soup into the bowl and place a small amount of the mint pesto on top of the squash.