Cheesy polenta wedges topped with grilled summer vegetables, briny olives and creamy cherry bocconcini. This is the perfect light lunch or vegetarian and gluten free starter for a dinner party.
Let’s pretend we’re having lunch together, friend. Let’s pretend that we’re having lunch and catching up on all that’s been happening in our lives lately. We’re sitting at a table in a picturesque cafe with lattes waiting for our lunch to be served. I’m telling you that wedding planning is already making me wish that I had listened to my gut and eloped to Hawaii and sent everyone an email telling them that we got married (and my wedding isn’t until next year!). I would tell you that I am addicted to the new season of Serial already, and that I missed Koenig’s voice in my ear while I was running on the weekend. We could discuss our thoughts on the case, and then, lunch would arrive.And this would be that lunch. Wedges of parmesan and oregano laced polenta topped with grilled summer vegetables, briny olives and creamy globes of cherry bocconcini. Simple, but perfect.
Now, you and I know that I didn’t eat this in a fancy cafe, but I did feel fancy sitting at my dining room table indulging in a few moments with my latest read in the cool of the air-conditioning. I was suprised at how quickly this elegant lunch came together. The polenta cooks very quickly in the pot (I used instant polenta) and then bakes in the oven while you grill the vegetables. It’s a very doable weeknight dinner (just add your choice of protein – a dribbly poached egg goes delightfully with these flavours), or a light lunch for company on the weekends. I used my favourite mix of summer vegetables: zucchini, capsicum, and eggplant, but this would be just as amazing with whatever’s in season where you live. Think mushrooms and shallots in winter, or perhaps asparagus and leeks in spring. The polenta is crisp and crunchy on the top but still creamy and cheesy underneath, and soaks up the balsamic vinaigrette from the grilled vegetables. This is the perfect dinner for when you want something elegant on the table, but don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen. Simple. Special. Delicious. And perfect for any gluten free and vegetarian guests who might be gathered around your dinner table.
Baked Parmesan Polenta Wedges with Grilled Summer Vegetables
| vegetarian | gluten free | serves 4
- 1 cup quick-cooking polenta
- 2 cups low sodium vegetable stock
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 medium zucchini
- 1 medium red capsicum
- 8 slices grilled eggplant (from the deli department)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/3 cup sliced green olives
- 16 cherry bocconcini
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- Preheat your oven to 180C and grease and line an 8-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.
- Place vegetable stock in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over a medium heat. Once simmering add the polenta in a thin stream, mixing all the time.
- Keep stirring while the polenta thickens. Cook for 5 minutes or until the polenta has absorbed all of the stock and is thickened.
- Remove polenta from the heat and stir in parmesan cheese, egg, oregano, pepper and salt until completely combined. Spoon into the prepared tart pan and smooth the top. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.
- While the polenta is baking you can grill the vegetables. Thinly slice the zucchini into long ribbons and cut the capsicum into small chunks.
- Heat 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil in a grill pan (or an ordinary frying pan if you don’t have a grill pan) over a medium heat. Cook zucchini ribbons and capsicum chunks until they are softened and slightly charred.
- Place zucchini and capsicum in a small bowl. Tear eggplant slices in half and add to the bowl. Tip in olives. Drizzle over the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and toss gently.
- When polenta is cooked remove from the oven and slice. Add to plates and top with grilled vegetables. Tear or cut the cherry bocconcini in half and place atop the vegetables. Drizzle with any sauce leftover from the vegetables.