“Here is what you need to know. As with any other solo pursuit, eating alone requires a carefully balanced combination of commitment, enthusiasm and self-adoration. It should, after all, be a meal with someone you love. Hell, if you go out for dinner by yourself and discover you don’t like the company, you really are in trouble. So you need to be in a good mood. I regard myself as a gregarious man. I like people and their chatter but sometimes the conversation I really want is the one with myself – we never disagree, me and I – and that happens best over food.”
– Jay Rayner, Restaurant Critic
In my journey of sharing some delicious meals for one (but still complete with leftovers), I finally tackled polenta after seeing it pop up in Madison’s What We Eat When We Eat Alone. Polenta was been on my ‘to-try’ for while due to its high marks in both thriftiness and wholesomeness. While perusing the The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook (with the recipe also posted here by the Mayo Clinic), the creamy polenta with roasted red pepper coulis beckoned.
While a bit time intensive, it was absolutely delicious. The long cooking time allowed for a very creamy, smooth polenta without the need for added cream or cream cheese. I was initially perplexed how the polenta would still be creamy despite a 15 minute baking time, but it allowed it to keep its shape while still being creamy- perfect for serving. It firmed up a bit as leftovers but was still really good. There was a bit of cheese in the polenta, which I thought was more than enough to infuse a subtle tang of Asiago and the red pepper coulis, with the garlic, made sure this wasn’t a bland cornmeal dish.
Creamy Polenta with Roasted Red Pepper Coulis
1 red bell pepper, roasted and seeded
1-3 cloves of garlic, minced (I used 2)
1 3/4 cups water
1 3/4 cups plain soy milk or 1 percent low-fat milk
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup polenta (coarse corn meal), preferably stone-ground
2-3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (I used Asiago)
1 tablespoon chopped thyme (I skipped this)
1. In a blender or food processor, combine the roasted pepper, garlic and 1 tablespoon of the water. Process until smooth; set the coulis aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 450 F. Lightly coat a 9-inch round cake pan with olive oil cooking spray.
3. In a large saucepan, combine the soy milk, remaining water, olive oil and salt. Whisk in the polenta and place over medium heat. Whisk constantly until the polenta begins to thicken (this can take around 20 minutes depending whether or not you use instant polenta). Reduce the heat to low and resume stirring with a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring frequently, until the polenta pulls away from the sides of the pan, about 15 minutes.
4. Add the coulis and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan and sprinkle with the cheese. Bake until firm, about 15 minutes. Let stand in the pan for 10 minutes before serving. Cut into 6 wedges and sprinkle with the thyme.