This simple and delicious vegetarian recipe can be on your table in 45 minutes or less, from start to finish. We’ve started eating a couple of vegetarian meals throughout the week and this is one we both love. I was worried that no meat wouldn’t be substantial enough for Joe. That wasn’t the case at all. It’s hearty and filling – a great comfort meal for those chilly winter nights.
I love the way the creamy polenta compliments the slightly meaty zucchini and nutty chickpeas. The zucchini and chickpea recipe was adapted from 1,000 Vegetarian Recipes by Carol Gelles. This is a fantastic book full of nutritious meals and side dishes. I used the chickpeas I cooked and froze during this month’s Once a Month Cooking event. I was a little skeptical about freezing beans but these chickpeas retained their texture and tasted fresh.
If you’ve ever made polenta the traditional way, you know it requires lots of stirring and standing at the stove for 30 minutes or so. When I found a recipe for oven baked polenta in Everyday Food: Great Food Fast I was thrilled. I’ve adapted it to work with stone-ground cornmeal.
Serves: 4 - 6 servings
- 1 tablespoon good quality extra virgin olive oil
- ½ of a large onion, sliced thinly
- 3 cloves of garlic, grated on a microplane
- 28 ounces of whole tomatoes in the juice
- 5 to 6 cups of zucchini, quartered and cut into 1 inch pieces
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas (canned will work, too)
- ¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
- ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
- ½ teaspoon whole Greek oregano
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, or to taste
- Heat olive oil in a 6 quart cast-iron enameled dutch oven over medium low heat. Add onion and saute until soft, 5 – 8 minutes. Add garlic and saute for another minute. Add tomatoes with juice. Use your wooden spoon to break up the tomatoes into small pieces. Add zucchini, chickpeas, basil, parsley, oregano, salt, and pepper. Bring to a low boil then reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered, or until zucchini is still slightly firm.
- Serve over oven-baked polenta, or if you prefer, with crusty bread.
Serves: 4 - 6 servings
- ¾ cup stone ground cornmeal
- 1¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 2 cups filtered water
- ¼ cup 1% milk or more water for dairy-free
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (optional)
- additional filtered water if necessary
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Put cornmeal, salt, and pepper into a 2 – 3 quart casserole dish. Add filtered water and whisk together. Cover with lid or aluminum foil. Bake for 15 minutes, remove from oven and carefully whisk again. Return to oven and bake for another 15 minutes.
- Remove your so-simple-to-make polenta from the oven, stir in milk and butter. Add additional filtered water to reach desired consistency. (I usually add ½ to ¾ cup.)