Thursday, December 26, 2013

Vegetable Ragu with Creamy Mascarpone Polenta

The Christmas preparations are over, for the year. Last night, I polished off the last (small) slice of Peppermint Cream Pie and I felt like a glutton. It didn't help that a certain "someone" bought a box of custom packed box of my beloved See's Caramel Chocolates. Said person is fully aware of my weakness for caramel. His name is Craig Santa. For the sake of politeness, I felt obliged to indulge in one two three of them.

This morning, my pancreas was giving me a "what for", and I am feeling a bit guilty.   That must explain why I have an urgent craving for vegetables.  I want need  a break from heavy cream, fresh baked rolls and decadent overly sweet desserts.

I created this recipe a while ago, and forgot to post it. It was inspired by a dish that my husband ordered at a restaurant up in the Napa Valley area-- an obscure town, whose name I can't even remember won't mention.  It was a busy restaurant that specialized in their polenta.  I stupidly ordered a soup, which was bland and tasteless, and served by a surly waiter (which is why I won't say where this place is).  My husband ordered the Vegetable Ragu with Creamy Polenta.  He offered a taste of it, and I was smitten. I was also experiencing a mean case of food envy.

When we returned home, I made it my personal mission to try and recreate the dish, and I think I succeeded. It's so easy to make, that I'm going to just share a pictorial.  For those of you who need a recipe, you'll find a recipe card at the end of this post.  Ready? Here we go:

The sugar is to balance out the acidity of the tomato sauce.

Wasn't that easy?  

I always have a box of cornmeal in my pantry, so this is my quick and easy version of polenta. Parmesan cheese is another staple in my refrigerator (not that awful stuff in the green can).  I happened to have a container of Mascarpone Cheese, which I don't always have on hand (thank goodness). It's a rich and decadent Italian Cream Cheese. You can always leave this out, which I do, at times-- like when I made the Chanterelles with Sage & Pork Tenderloin served over polenta. 

I use a ratio of 1/4 cup corn meal to 1 cup of liquid-- be it milk, water or chicken stock. After that, I just start adding in Parmesan cheese until it tastes just right.  If you've never had polenta, I encourage you to try it. Yes, you can find pre-made polenta in a plastic tube. I've never tried it. I can't fathom a product that is unrefrigerated as being good. It kinda scares me, in fact. I can make this in 20 minutes, from scratch, for a whole lot less money.  My husband loves it more than mashed potatoes.

After all that eggnog, Spritz Cookies, Turkey and fixin's and peppermint desserts-- doesn't this look appealing?

Of course, serving this over brown rice (or barley) would kick up the "health food" points with Weight Watchers.

 We'll stick with Creamy Polenta.  So creamy, so comforting. Yum!

...which (temporarily) cancels out my Perfect Prime Rib orgy.  (I'll share this recipe in time for New Year's.)

I think I'll share this Peppermint Cream Pie recipe next year.  I'm taking a bit leap here, but aren't most of us a little burned out on peppermint?

The weather in our corner of the world has been in the low 80's.  We Californians are worried that we could be facing a serious drought. I do hope for rain. But, in the meantime, I think it's a great day to take a scenic drive to Carmel Valley or down the coast of Big Sur-- which should include a bit of walking and appreciating that I don't have to return to work for another week!

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Joanne said...

Polenta always makes me super excited. Surly waiters do not. I'm so glad you were able to recreate this minus the attitude!

HappinessSavouredHot said...

Yum yum yum!

The pics are making me hungry! :-)

Mallory Frayn said...

I love the idea of putting mascarpone in polenta! Happy New Year!

Ciao Chow Linda said...

OK, so that polenta has me wanting to run out and buy some mascarpone. What a decadent treat. I'd love the veggies over brown rice too and may have to resort to that, with all the polenta I've been eating lately (to which I add either milk or cream). wow, that rib roast and peppermint pie look outrageously good too. Do you have to wait until next year to post the recipe?