Monday, June 28, 2010
Eighteen boxes of books are now stacked up in my living room, all packed and ready to leave. I'm not moving or anything, we're still going to be in New York for the foreseeable future. Of course, we never see much beyond our year-to-year lease, even if committing to two years would save money in the end. We can never promise to stay more than just one more year. This August will be the sixth time I've said that.
Most New Yorkers have minimalist living down pretty well, but not me. I'm a collector. And what I collect are books. And this afternoon, I remembered once again, that Books Punish You. Always. If you're going to collect books, you have to really, seriously love them, because they will never make your life easy.
And we're running out of room, and it's getting overwhelming, but it's not completely my fault. I'll spare you my rationalization. The point is my dad offered to store some of my books at home in Denver, in a mostly unused closet in the basement. I've always had kind of a panicky nightmare that our apartment building would one day go up in flames (you hear about those things happening in New York, don't you?) and that I wouldn't be able to save nearly enough books. In fact, probably none of them, because, you know, I'd have to save the dog. So 'some books' turned into eighteen boxes. I don't know why my parents put up with me sometimes. But there it is.
So I'm an irresponsible New Yorker because I don't live sparely. And I'm an irresponsible cooker-out-of-vegan-cookbooks because, well, I almost always want to add cheese. What. I'm not Vegan. But I appreciate their creativity, their focus on vegetables. This time, I didn't listen to my gut, and I regretted it. The polenta pie was delicious, the surprise of maple syrup in the simmered tomato sauce a subtle hint of a little something. And, of course, there's no arguing with roasted vegetables. But the polenta base? Meh. Honestly, it could have used some gruyère in a major way. Next time, I'd add that in. If you're also not a vegan, you should consider doing the same.
Roast Vegetable Polenta Pie
Adopted from Tanya Barnard & Sarah Kramer's How it All Vegan
For the roasted veggies:
1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced
1 small zucchini, sliced
handful of mushrooms, washed and quartered
1 small green pepper, sliced
1 small red pepper, sliced
2 gloves garlic, pressed or minced
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup (yes, really!)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Small handful of fresh basil leaved, chopped
4 roma tomatoes, chopped
Salt & pepper to taste
Oven preheated to 450 F. Put all of the chopped vegetables onto a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Toss them around until they're all coated, then roast for 15-20 minutes. You might want to stir them or shake the pan occasionally to prevent sticking. The vegetables should be browned and fragrant by the end.
Place 1/2 cup of the roasted vegetables into a blender along with the rest of the ingredients except the salt and pepper. Blend the mixture, then transfer the sauce and the rest of the roasted vegetables to a sauce pan large enough to hold it all. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, then add the salt and pepper to taste. Continue to simmer on low heat while you make the polenta. It's a good idea to give it enough time so that much of the liquid evaporates which does two things. First, it concentrates the flavors, and second it will prevent your filling from being overly runny.
For the polenta crust:
1 cup polenta, not the instant kind (you can use coarse cornmeal)
3 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon oil
Salt & pepper to taste
1 cup gruyère cheese, shredded (optional, as is the amount)
Whisk together the cornmeal with 1 cup of the water in a medium bowl. Set aside. In a medium saucepan, bring the rest of the water to a boil, then add the cornmeal and the optional cheese to the boiling water and turn down the heat to medium low. Add the rest of the ingredients, then stir continuously for about 10-15 minutes, especially toward the end. The polenta will become very thick and stiff. Pour it into a casserole dish that's been lightly oiled, and push the polenta down into the dish to distribute evenly. Let the polenta set for about 15 minutes.
Pour the vegetable mixture over the polenta, cut into slices and serve.