Ah, polenta. The quintessential Italian comfort food! Ok, maybe pasta is the quintessential Italian comfort food, but I feel a bit partial to the warm, creamy concoction that results from simmering frangrant, toasty cornmeal in water and mixing in some rich, tangy chevre (I used the always-delicious and Colorado-made Haystack Mt. Boulder Chevre). Broil an egg on the top and you reach a whole new level of awesomeness!
To make this dish even more comfy-cozy, I topped it off with my take on a classic French comfort food, ratatouille. This version is composed of all the delicious Grant Family Farms CSA ingredients I had on hand, although typically ratatouille is made with zucchini, bell pepper and eggplant. This version packs in a healthy dose of just-cooked greens, instead, and gets a nice, bright punch of flavor from the addition of sun-dried tomatoes and freshly chopped parsley leaves. Definitely not traditional but decidedly less fussy and totally delicious!
Goat Cheese Polenta with Zucchini and Chard Ratatouille
6 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups polenta grain
4 oz chevre, softened to room temperature
salt to taste
6 farm-fresh eggs
2 T olive oil
3 cups mixed zucchini, diced
1/2 large red onion, diced
2 T garlic scapes, sliced
2 T sun-dried tomatoes, minced
1 28-oz can San Marzano whole tomatoes
2 cups chard leaves, chopped (about 4 large leaves)
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Pour in the polenta in a slow, thin stream while whisking vigorously. Switch to a wooden spoon and stir polenta until mixture returns to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover pot. Cook polenta, stirring vigorously for 1 minute every 7-8 minutes or so, until grain is tender and most of the water has been absorbed, about 30 minutes. Add chevre and salt to polenta, breaking up the cheese with the wooden spoon, and stir until chevre is incorporated, about 5 more minutes.
As your polenta is cooking, in a medium bowl, use your hands to crush the San Marzano tomatoes into rough chunks. In another large pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add zucchini and onion and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Add garlic scapes and sun-dried tomatoes and cook another minute. Add the tomatoes with their juice into the pot and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and allow to cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens, about 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Place your oven rack on the highest level (make sure there's enough room for your pan to fit below the burner). Heat oven to broil. Once polenta is cooked, spray a 9x13-inch lasagne dish (slightly smaller is OK) with cooking spray. Pour polenta into the dish. Crack one egg into a small cup and place the other eggs nearby. Make a well in the polenta with your spoon and slide the egg into the well. Repeat with remaining eggs, working quickly so the polenta doesn't solidify. Place under broiler and cook (watching closely) until egg whites are set, up to 5 minutes.
When the ratatouille has cooked down, remove from heat. Add chopped chard leaves and stir for a few minutes until the chard has wilted. Allow polenta to cool and solidify (at least 10 minutes), then cut and serve with ratatouille and fresh parsley on top.