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.
“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.