Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Broccoli Polenta with Vegetable Ragu

This recipe is takes elements from several other recipes and combines them into one big knockout recipe. The base is the Broccoli Polenta recipe from Veganomicon, topped with a vegetable ragu that I stole and modified from Gourmet magazine. I think the polenta was too wet, but the topping was fantastic. I took the extra and tossed it with pasta and it was great like that too.

Broccoli Polenta
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup polenta
2 tbsp olive oil
4 cups of finely chopped broccoli

1. Bring the broth and salt to a boil in a medial saucepan.

2. Slowly add the polenta whisking the entire time.

3. Add the broccoli, and the olive oil, and reduce the heat to low.

4. Cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Make sure you scrape around the bottom and edges since it seems to set there first.

5. Remove from heat and leave covered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

What I did at this point was poured it into two greased large tomato cans (28 oz) and let it rest in the fridge for about 4 hrs until it was cool and set. Then I shook it out of the cans, sliced it, misted with olive oil, and put the slices under the broiler for about 10 minutes. They didn't brown as well as I'd have liked though, and like I said, it was still pretty soft.


Vegetable Ragu
1 1/2 lbs Japanese eggplant (regular will do as well, but Japanese eggplant are sweeter and less seedy)
2 large portabello mushrooms
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
1/2 cup roasted red peppers
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 cup water
Handful each fresh parsley and basil, plus more for garnish

1. Dice the mushroom and eggplant to about equal size dice. It is going to seem like a ton, but it shrinks a lot. Heat the oil in a large pot and add the oregano, eggplant, and mushrooms. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 5-7 minutes or until the veggies are soft and have shrunk.

2. Meanwhile ... quarter the tomatoes and chop the roasted red peppers. When the eggplant and mushrooms have softened, add the tomatoes, peppers and garlic and cook for about 10 minutes, adding water if the mixture seems too dry.

3. Chop the parsley and basil and add at the very end just before serving. Top with more fresh herbs for a bright garnish.

Ye Big Old Pot of Ragu
(Ragu means "Sauce" in Italian)

Uh oh! More Ragu than you've got Polenta??

It is absolutely delicious on some crusty bread with a drizzle of olive oil, or you could toss it with some cooked pasta. Heck, you could scrap the Polenta all together and save yourself a bunch of work and just make it with pasta. It's dern good.

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