Crispy fried polenta cakes are topped with a warm garlicky tomato topping, fresh basil and sharp blue cheese. It’s a celebration of fresh flavors and textures.
As I am sitting here, Jewel is singing “Have a Little Faith in Me,” and the kids are outside playing with a shiny gold ball — practically daring the storm clouds to pour on them. Their hoots and laughter carry in through open doors and windows. Nearby, one of my 10-year-old beagles is gazing out my office door, watching the road. He doesn’t want to go out … he just wants to look.
My life isn’t quiet, and it’s not still. Aside from the few hours when both kids are in school, there is always a flurry of activity and homework happening here. Sometimes there are sports practices, urgent deadlines and evening meetings too. Like many of you, life is busy. And it’s imperfect. Sometimes we’re late because someone misplaced their soccer socks (again!). Sometimes things don’t go at all as planned. Sometimes there’s just too much work for an impromptu trip to the park.
When life moves at a rapid pace like it does for us, it’s easy to fall into the traps of convenience — choosing takeover over home cooking and opting for the easiest go-to dinner you can think of (breakfast for dinner, again?!?). If you are nodding your head, believe me that I get it. It really can be easier to order a pizza than to cook a meal after a long day. I speak from experience.
But there’s something to be said for the comfort of a home cooked meal. And home cooking doesn’t have to mean complicated, time-sucking preparation. In fact, it can mean heating a little oil up in a pan and cooking a little garlic until it’s fragrant (hint: it takes about a minute) and then tossing it with little tomatoes, salt and pepper to make a fresh sauce that’s delightful over fried slices of premade polenta. Add a sprinkle of fresh basil and a crumble of blue cheese … heavenly.
If you haven’t whipped up fried polenta before, let me assure you it’s very easy. Look for precooked polenta in a tube. When you unwrap it, all you have to do is cut it into slices and fry it up in a little bit of olive oil. And that frying? Aside from one quick flip, it’s almost completely hands off.
Tomato Basil Fried Polenta with Blue Cheese is fantastic as an appetizer or light lunch. But pile it on a bed of baby arugula or baby spinach (perhaps with a drizzle of balsamic?) and it’s a perfect 30-minute dinner.
How do you like your polenta?
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 pint grape tomatoes (about 2 cups)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 roll precooked polenta, sliced into ½ discs
- ¼ cup finely sliced fresh basil
- ¼ cup crumbled blue cheese
- Preheat a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat on the stove. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil for the topping and heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minutes. Add the tomatoes and season well with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes until the tomatoes begin to pop open. Use the back of a spatula to lightly press the tomatoes so they all pop. Remove from the burner and set aside.
- Preheat a 10-inch sauté pan over medium heat. Add the remaining olive oil (for the polenta) and heat. Place the polenta slices in the pan and cook, flipping once, until golden, about 13-15 minutes.
- To serve, arrange polenta slices on plates and top with tomatoes. Sprinkle with basil and blue cheese. Enjoy immediately.