On this the last day of August (sniff, sniff) I feel the need to share an in season, summer recipe. When I came across the recipe for a tomato polenta tart I was sold. First of all it was a tart with no egg filling, perfect for my egg hating self. Second it didn't have a pastry crust, not a huge fan of pastry. Third I had some beautiful, ripe, local tomatoes that were calling out for something special. This recipe does take a little time, but is well worth it. Celiac readers: it's gluten free.
Polenta is made from corn meal and is popular in Italy and other European countries. It seems to be popping up over here quite a bit too. I have had it a few times in the last few months and was ready to try making it myself at home.
4 cups low sodium chicken stock
1 cup cornmeal
4 tbsp butter
2 medium sized cobs of fresh corn (or about a cup of canned or frozen corn)
2 tbsp fresh basil, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 1/2 cups light ricotta cheese
1 large egg
2 large Heirloom tomatoes sliced
sea or kosher salt to taste
fresh cracked pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 F. In a large, heavy bottomed sauce pan, bring stock to a boil. In an even stream, pour in the cornmeal, whisking well as you do so. Lower to a simmer, stirring with a wooden spoon often (the more you stir the creamier the texture). Continue to stir and check on the polenta for the next 30-40 minutes. It will be very thick which is good. In another large saucepan, fill about half way with water. Bring to a boil, add in the corn and cook for about 5 minutes. Remove corn and run under cold water to make it easier to handle. Use a knife to remove the kernels. In a frying pan melt 2 tbsp of butter and add in the corn, basil and garlic. Sauté on medium high until the corn turns golden and the garlic is cooked, about 6-7 minutes. When the polenta is finished, stir in 2 tbsp of butter, some pepper and the parmesan cheese. Mix in the corn and basil mixture and set aside. Add an egg to the ricotta and mix until completely incorporated. Grease a 9″ round baking dish (preferably glass). I used a spring form pan which worked well. Line the baking dish with polenta, pushing it up the sides like a pie crust. Pour in the ricotta and smooth with a spoon. Top tart with tomato slices. Season with salt and pepper and bake for 60 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before slicing. Serves 8. Adapted from here.
I was able to use local tomatoes and corn as well as basil from my garden. The results...perfection. I loved everything about it: the crispy edge of polenta, the creamy ricotta, real tomato taste all with an amazing blend of flavours. It was the prefect dinner. I served it with a green salad that included lettuce from my garden. Let's just say I was feeling the local food vibe and appreciating everything summer has to offer.
Tiffany McFadden, RD