Roasted Tomatoes over Polenta and Mascarpone recipe

When Sarah Henkin and I were trying to come up with a menu item for samples at the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market FoodWise booth, we decided to make delicious, late summer tomatoes the centerpiece. We needed to keep the dish simple since there were some other events happening that day. Roasted tomatoes on top of something seemed like a good option to me.

Since we eat gluten-free, I tend to not think about using bread with tomatoes (although the thought does leave me with pangs of longing for Acme). My standard fallback is usually polenta. I made a similar dish last year with roasted veggies and gorgonzola (see that post here) so this needed to be different.

For this one, a savory mascarpone came to mind. So picture it: firm polenta on the bottom, a thin layer of soft mascarpone seasoned with salt and pepper and then roasted tomatoes with basil chiffonade on top. In theory, I knew it should work. Before serving, we both tried it. Well let’s just say I made a lot of people happy that day.

This dish can be served as an appetizer, side or even main course (it almost tastes like lasagna). The combination of flavors and textures is quite lovely and will certainly impress your guests or family. Making polenta is easy; please don’t use the tube! Enjoy.

Scrape all of the juices from the pan and put on top of the polenta

Roasted Tomatoes over Polenta and Mascarpone

2 lbs ripe plum tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon each thyme and oregano

2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced (reserve for later; don’t add with tomatoes yet)

3 cups water
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 cup polenta
1/2 cup Italian grated cheese
1 Tablespoon Olive oil
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic granules
Optional: pinch of crushed red pepper

6 oz mascarpone or goat cheese
1 Tablespoon cream or milk
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
Few grinds of freshly ground pepper
2 packed Tablespoons basil, chopped (don’t chop until ready to serve)

1.    Pre-heat oven to 375ºF.
2.    Place tomatoes in a bowl with oil and seasonings and toss. Garlic is added in step 4.
3.    Place in roasting pan and bake about 18-20 minutes or until softened and browned, stirring after 10 minutes. While the tomatoes roast, make the polenta (see below).
4.    Add garlic to the tomatoes and bake 3 more minutes.
5.    Remove and place in a bowl.

Firm Polenta

1.    Bring water to a boil in a medium to large pot. Add salt. While water is boiling, slowly add polenta in a steady stream, whisking constantly.
2.    Add cheese, olive oil, pepper, garlic and optionally crushed red pepper. Lower heat and simmer until thickened, stirring occasionally.  If bubbling, lower the heat. This should take 15-20 minutes.
3.    Continue to cook until thick and pour into a greased 9”x13” baking pan.  Cool slightly.
4.    In a small bowl, add mascarpone, milk, salt and pepper. Mix until combined.
5.    Spread cheese mixture on top of polenta. Top with roasted tomatoes and basil. Cut into squares and serve.

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