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Polenta with Vegetables

Serve a medley of vegetables over a mound of fluffy polenta to make an excellent first course for a spring meal. Polenta’s cornmeal base provides a great complement to the vegetables.

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Preparation time: 25 minutes

Cooking time: 45 to 50 minutes

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

2 cloves garlic

1 medium onion

1 carrot

2 celery stalks

1 yellow bell pepper

Fresh sage, or 1 teaspoon dried sage

Fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 cup and 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup white wine

8 asparagus spears

24 green beans

1 zucchini

2 medium tomatoes

Fresh basil, or 1 tablespoon dried basil

1/2 cup water

2 quarts cold water

2 cups coarsely ground cornmeal

1 tablespoon salt

  1. Peel and chop the garlic cloves.

  2. Dice the onion, carrot, and celery.

  3. Core the bell pepper and cut it into long, thin strips.

  4. Chop the fresh sage and thyme.

    If you use dried herbs, you don’t need to chop them.

  5. In a medium-sized pan, heat the 1/4 cup olive oil over medium heat.

  6. Add the garlic, onion, carrot, celery, yellow pepper, 1 teaspoon fresh sage, and 1 teaspoon fresh thyme.

  7. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables soften, 8 to 10 minutes.

  8. Season with salt and pepper and add the wine.

  9. Simmer until the wine is reduced by half, about 3 minutes.

  10. Cut the asparagus spears’ stems into 1-inch pieces.

    Reserve the tips separately.

  11. Cut the green beans into 1-inch pieces.

  12. Add the asparagus stems and beans to the pan.

  13. Cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes.

  14. Dice the zucchini and tomatoes.

  15. Chop the fresh basil.

    If you go the dried basil route, you can skip this step.

  16. Add the zucchini, tomatoes, asparagus tips, 1/2 cup fresh basil, and 1/2 cup water, then continue cooking for another 10 minutes.

    Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, to taste.

  17. Combine the 2 quarts water, cornmeal, salt, and 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan.

  18. Turn the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly.

  19. When the polenta begins to boil, lower the heat to a simmer and continue cooking, stirring often, for 40 to 45 minutes.

    It should be the consistency of soft ice cream and pull away from the sides of saucepan. If it’s too stiff, add a little hot water.

  20. Serve the vegetable mixture over a generous mound of polenta.

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