Thyme Lentils over Polenta
I was apprehensive about making this recipe on a weeknight. However, when I told Rob about my top three options for dinner, he encouraged me to try the Rosemary Lentils over Polenta from Supermarket Vegan.
You see, I have made polenta before – a creamy, smooth, polenta with a roasted red pepper coulis – and it was delicious. However, it took me (well, technically, my brother who was over that day) 45 minutes to get the polenta to the right consistency. I didn’t really feel like stirring polenta over the stovetop after I came home from work. But I decided to forge ahead anyhow…
Low and behold, instead of grabbing the coarse cornmeal, I took out the fine cornmeal. And if there ever was instant polenta, this would be it! Within minutes, it had firmed up and was ready to set. Granted, this polenta was not nearly as creamy as last time (that recipe had used milk and a smidgen of cheese, but I am sure the coarse cornmeal had something to do with it). But in this case, I didn’t really mind. The firm, garlicky polenta contrasted nicely with the soupy herb-infused lentils. Just like the texture contrast in the Spanish Lentil and Mushroom Stew, the play of textures worked very well together. It wasn’t mush on mush, it was soup on firm.
However, there was one casualty when I cooked mid-week. I thought I was making Rosemary Lentils. A few days later, I realized I had made Thyme Lentils, instead, as I grabbed the wrong herb and my brain didn’t say ‘stop! this isn’t rosemary!’. This also might explain why the flavour was a lot more subtle than I had anticipated. However, it was exactly what I wanted. This was not a flavour explosion; sometimes I need the quiet, too.
This meal is great post-holiday indulgences. The lentils are light and fresh and the polenta is hearty and offers a nice balance. The leftovers were great with a little zap in the microwave, although the lentil stew was less soupy.
Rosemary Thyme Lentils over Polenta
1.5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 cup chopped onion
4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped, divided
4 cups vegetable broth, divided
3 cups water, divided
1 cup dried lentils (green or brown)
1 tbsp fresh
rosemary thyme or 1 tsp dried
1/4 tsp salt
1 large bay leaf
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (omitted)
1 cup polenta (cornmeal)
1. In a medium deep-sided nonstick skillet with a lid, heat 1 tbsp of the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring until softened, about 3 minutes, Add half the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute.
2. Add 2 cups of the broth, 2 cups of the water, lentils, rosemary, 1/4 tsp salt, pepper to taste and bay leaf; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 40 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Uncover and increase the heat to medium; cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is reduced and slightly soupy, about 5-10 minutes. Stir in the parsley (if using) and remove from heat. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Cover and keep warm (mixture will thicken as it cools).
3. Meanwhile, lightly oil an 8-inch square baking dish and set aside (I used a non-stick pan and it didn’t need any oil). Bring the remaining 2 cups broth, 1 cup water, remaining 1/2 tbsp oil, remaining garlic, salt and pepper to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, slowly add in polenta. Immediately reduce the heat to medium; cook, stirring often with a long handled wooden spoon, 15 minutes (or less than 5 minutes if using instant polenta). Immediately spoon the polenta into the prepared baking dish, pressing down with the back of a large spoon to form a smooth surface. Let stand 15 minutes to become firm.
4. To serve, cut the polenta into desired number of squares and transfer to individual serving plates. Spoon equal amounts of the lentil mixture over the polenta and serve at once.