GRIDDLED POLENTA WITH ROASTED VINE TOMATOES AND GOAT’S CURD
This simple dish is ideal as an easy help-yourself supper (and makes a delicious brunch dish too). You can make the polenta a couple of days in advance and then just finish it off in the griddle pan as your tomatoes roast in the oven. A lovely salty goat’s curd sets it off beautifully but you could just as easily use cream cheese or crème fraîche.
Preheat the oven to its highest setting. Grease a 2cm deep baking dish or tray.
Cook the polenta according to the packet instructions. Once cooked, beat in the butter and Parmesan. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary, then pour into the prepared dish. Cover and chill until set, about 20–30 minutes.
Meanwhile, snip the tomatoes into small clusters still attached to the vine. Place them on a baking tray and prick each tomato with the point of a knife. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle over the garlic, sugar and thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar, then roast for 10–12 minutes, or until the tomatoes are blistered and tender.
Once the polenta is chilled, turn it out of the dish and slice it into wedges. Place a griddle pan over a medium heat. Brush the polenta wedges on either side with olive oil, season and griddle until charred and warmed through. You’ll find it easiest to turn the wedges using a fish slice or palette knife.
To serve, place a wedge of polenta on a serving plate, sit a cluster of tomatoes on top and spoon over any juices from the roasting pan. Top with quenelles or dollops of goat’s cheese or curd. Drizzle with a little more balsamic vinegar and garnish with the torn basil leaves.
Polenta is to the Italians what mashed potato is to Britons, a delicious staple. It’s a cornmeal made of dried maize which is cooked in boiling water. I always use the instant variety when cooking at home because it is ready in 10 minutes, and add a drizzle of oil to the cooking water to stop it from sticking. Whether served fresh, or chilled and then griddled, it makes a great accompaniment to grilled meats.