Grilled Polenta with Tomato-Basil Sauce

Kyle has been away from home now for nearly a week – but it’s felt like a month already for some reason. Probably because it’s so nice out, so I’m especially missing doing warm-weather things with him. Instead I’m out biking all by my lonesome, while he’s in Houston for work. I think it also has to do with my jealousy over him being in Texas…a place I’ve always had a hankering to go to. My day will come though – and perhaps it’ll be a semi-free trip if I can join him on his next work-venture out that way.

I’ve been fortunate this time around with Kyle being away to have been invited out to someone’s place for dinner nearly every single night – or I’ve had guests to cook for. Because when it comes to cooking for one, I tend to turn to my magic meal of popcorn and tomato juice. Not that there’s anything wrong with a good ‘ol Popcorn-for-Dinner night; sometimes I look forward to Kyle’s departures just so I can devour a giant bowl of popcorn for sustenance, guilt-free .

One of the 2 nights that I’ve actually eaten alone this week I decided to quickly flip through my latest issue of Bon Appetit to try to find something quick to eat. Low and behold the very first page I opened there was a gluten-free recipe that looked extremely simple. The recipe for Tomato-Basil Sauce with Polenta states 45 minutes in total to make; but if you’re a fast chopper and quick parchment-paper-folder I don’t think it takes nearly that long. I also ended up using my grill instead of the oven in order to prepare the entire recipe, which I suspect sped things up a bit. Although I kept the grill at the same temperature stated in Bon Appetit, the whole dinner was probably on my plate within 30 minutes. This is a great weeknight meal that we’ll be keeping in rotation for when we want dinner in a hurry. Also…it seems like a distant cousin of my popcorn and tomato juice meal – bliss.

Grilled Polenta with Tomato-Basil Sauce

Adapted from Bon Appetit, June 2012

Note: I’ve made a few tweaks from the Bon Appetit recipe, plus reduced the ingredients to serve 2. However, in the photos I ended up cooking the entire polenta log so I could have leftovers to snack on throughout the week…do not be fooled. 

1 pint cherry tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
2 Tbsp red onion, minced
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp chili flakes
1/8 tsp pepper
4 large sprigs of basil
extra virgin olive oil
3 sheets of parchment paper (about 24″ long – no need to be exact)
1/2 16-18 oz packaged cooked polenta log

Preheat grill to medium-high heat (you want the temperature of the closed grill to be around 425ºF – but no hotter or the parchment paper will burn).

Cut half of the cherry tomatoes in half or quarters; then roughly chop the remaining half of the tomatoes as fine as you can (you can use a food processor for this step – recommended if you’re increasing the amount of the ingredients to serve more people) – you don’t want them to be mushy, just a fine chopping with some texture. Combine the tomatoes, garlic, onion, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, chili flakes and 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a small bowl.

Stack the parchment paper on top of each other. Gently pour the tomato mixture on one side of the parchment paper, then fold over the parchment sheets and crimp the edges as you go to make a sealed “envelope.” Do not use aluminum foil in place of the parchment paper, as it will react with the acid in the tomatoes – which means your dinner will be gross. Place the parchment packet on a heavy baking sheet, then place on prepared grill. Allow to cook on the grill for 15-20 minutes.

While the tomato sauce is cooking, slice the polenta into 1/2″ rounds, then drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle over salt and pepper. Place the oiled polenta on the prepared grill and grill for about 10-15 minutes, turning once.

Remove everything from the grill when the polenta is crisp and golden on the outside and the tomatoes are broken down. Be careful when opening the parchment packet, as the steam that escapes will be very hot. Serve the tomato sauce over the polenta rounds.

Serves 2.

Delicious eaten with grilled balsamic zucchini.


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  1. #1 by DeRya on June 27, 2012 - 2:20 pm

    My dear, you have weird recipes!!!!! But, they sound deuoicils and I will try a few of them.I do love the way you find ingredients in the pantry and fridge and then combine them ..a true artist! As a veggie lover, I always read your latest inventions ..but instead of red wine, I drink white. As I\’m not a pizza lover, I can translate some of your recipes into a pasta recipe, and it works. Esp. with homemade pasta.

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