Slow Cooked Ratatouille over Polenta

This is a delicious Winter meal and is super filling!  Be sure to cook the polenta at least one day ahead.  This will make meal time even easier too.  I hope you enjoy!

For the Polenta:
6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 1/2 cup polenta
1/2 stick butter
4oz goat cheese or another cheese of your choice
10 grinds black pepper

For the Ratatouille:
2 large eggplants, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 tablespoons coarse salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium red onions, halved and thinly sliced
2 red bell peppers
3 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup tomato paste
One 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
10 grinds black pepper
1/2 cup packed freshly grated parmesan
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil

For the polenta, add the stock and salt to a medium, heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, gradually whisk in the cornmeal. Reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring every 3 minutes, until creamy and thickened, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter, cheese, and pepper.  Pour into a greased dish and allow to firm overnight.  1-hour before mealtime, place pads of butter on top of polenta and bake polenta at 400 degrees until nicely browned.  Remove from heat and cut into squares.  Serve squares topped with ratatouille.

Grease the slow cooker with cooking spray.  Place the eggplant and zucchini in a large colander and toss well with 3 tablespoons of the salt; let sit for about 45 minutes. Rinse well to remove the salt, then dry well, gently squeezing out excess water with a kitchen towel. Add to the greased slow cooker. Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in a 10-inch, heavy sauté pan over medium-high heat. When warm, add the onions, bell peppers, and garlic and sauté until the vegetables are softened, about 8 minutes. Transfer to the slow cooker. Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. As soon as it melts, add the flour and tomato paste, and cook until the mixture is thickened and the flour disappears, about 1 minute. Increase the heat to medium high and add the tomatoes with their juices, thyme, and pepper. Cook, crushing the tomatoes a bit with a wooden spoon, until thickened and smooth, about 6 minutes. Mix with the vegetables in the slow cooker. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low until the vegetables are tender, 4 to 5 hours. Uncover and remove from the heat; immediately stir in the cheese and basil.


Heather Poast