Grilled Veggie Polenta Stacks

Tonight we went to a Homegrown Tomato contest, and it was great to see the variety of tomatoes that people brought from their gardens. It was very professionally judged by three knowledgeable guys who KNOW tomatoes, and the winners truly were amazing on flavor and aesthetic! No our cherry tomatoes didn’t win anything, but as Matt said – cherry tomatoes generally taste pretty good, its the larger ones that can be a lot harder. We have tons of green tomatoes in the garden, and lots of ripening cherry tomatoes. I can’t WAIT for some of the heirlooms to start coming in!

Green Tomatoes

I did a version of this dish awhile back for my friend Kate – we trade food and sport massages, so I assembled a casserole of polenta, eggplant, zucchini, mozzerella, pesto, and marinara sauce. I didn’t have all those ingredients on hand last week though, so instead I made stacks. And not only were they a great, fast dinner, but a fantastic lunch the next day!

Sungolds

A few weeks ago we pulled all the squash plants out of the garden- they were dying/dead from powdery mildew. So I actually bought squash at the market on Tuesday – four eight-ball zucchinis, two pale and two dark green. They were the perfect diameter of the polenta roll and white eggplants I had. We also had loads of cherry tomatoes, so I whipped up a 20-minute sauce (thanks to my friend Sherri’s recipe, which I had just read the day before on her new blog PhillyFresh). The sauce was really tangy- I think because they were cherry tomatoes instead of something milder. But a layer of goat cheese melted into the sauce beautifully to make it creamy and delicious. I actually think this would be even BETTER with pesto to really bring out the basil flavors, but I didn’t have enough basil growing to make into pesto… so next time!

Veggie Polenta Stack

Grilled Vegetable Polenta Stacks

1 roll of polenta (Trader Joe’s), sliced into 1/4-1/2″ thick rounds

4 eight-ball zucchini, sliced into similar thickness as polenta

2 small-medium white eggplant, sliced into similar thickness as polenta

Goat cheese

Basil leaves, cut or torn into pieces

Olive oil/salt/pepper

Spicy Tomato Sauce:

1 minced garlic clove

1/4 tsp (or less) dried red pepper flakes

4-6 tbsp olive oil

~1 lb cherry tomatoes

1/2 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

Heat the olive oil in a skillet with the garlic and red pepper flakes over medium heat for ~3o seconds. Add the tomatoes, sugar and salt and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened – 15-20 minutes.

While the sauce simmers, coat the polenta, zucchini and eggplant with olive oil, salt, and pepper (do the polenta separately as its more fragile). Heat the grill and lay the slices over medium-high heat (it might help to brush some olive oil on the grill where the polenta will be to prevent sticking). Turn slices over after 3-4 minutes, grill for another 3-4 minutes until done. Place on a plate for assembly.

Lay a slice of polenta on a dinner plate. Put a slice of zucchini on top, spoon some tomato sauce on, and lay a few crumbles of goat cheese on top. Place a slice of eggplant on top of that, spoon a little more sauce, and top with more goat cheese and some basil. Enjoy!

Plum Cake

First of all, I’d like to apologize for taking such a long hiatus from posting. Things just seemed to get really busy – Matt sprained his ankle while climbing (its much better now), coordinating things for my new job, we were in Austin, TX for 5 days for a wedding, then I was trying to catch up once we got back, the garden needed a lot of work, etc. I will do my best to get back to 1x a week though! I also realized I have yet to post a dessert recipe on this blog – which seems odd given that we’re definitely a household of desserts. But I think this one will be a perfect first!

April Plums

Last summer, we were inspired to plant a plum tree by our friends Zach and Heather. We were lucky enough to indulge in some of their tree’s harvest (several plum crisps worth), and it was so delicious that I decided I wanted a plum tree too! The blossoms came in March/April, and then the little green plums starting showing up – hard to believe that was four months ago. We got a respectable amount of plums for our first harvest – perhaps 30? And they ripened over ~two weeks so I wasn’t too overwhelmed.

Plums

I made a few desserts with the plums, although there were never quite enough to make something like a crisp or cobbler. One of the better recipes I found was for a tender cake flecked with orange and topped with plum halves tucked into the batter. The original recipe called for lemon zest, but I only had an orange on hand, which probably made the cake slightly sweeter. Our plums are a little on the tart side, and they got even tarter when cooked, so I think a different variety might be better. This could also probably work with other stone fruits – nectarines, peaches, cherries?

Plum Cake

Dimply Plum Cake

1 1/2 cups flour (I used a mix of all purpose and whole wheat pastry flour)

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground cardamom

5 tbsp unsalted butter

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

2 eggs

1/3 cup oil

grated zest of one orange (original recipe calls for lemon zest)

2 tsp vanilla extract

8 plums, halved and pitted

Preheat oven to 350. Butter an 8×8 baking pan flour the bottom and sides, and set aside. Using a hand mixer (or stand mixer if you own one), cream the butter with the brown sugar. Add the eggs, beating well, then the oil, orange zest and vanilla. Reduce speed and add the flour, baking powder, salt, and cardamom, and mix only until just incorporated.

Pour the batter in the prepared dish, smooth top, and arrange the plums on top, cut side up. Bake for about 40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean and the top is brown with the plums set well into the cake.

Let cool for at least 15 minutes (the juices of the plums will get sucked back into the fleshy parts of the fruit) before loosening the edges of the cake with a knife and inverting the cake on a baking rack. Return the cake to face up and cool the rest of the way.

Original recipe is from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours