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!
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!
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!
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
Basil leaves, cut or torn into pieces
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!