One of my favorites, and a big hit with the family, from the Moosewood Cookbook… I’ve made this several times, though not all that frequently since it takes more than an hour just for the crust to be ready. Perfect for a chilly winter (or in this case summer) day when you’re around the house for a substantial chunk of time before mealtime. I used canned tomatoes and veggies I had at hand, but part of the beauty of it is pretty much anything will work! Marinated bean salad (basically a can of beans sitting for a long time in some olive oil, vinegar, herbs) complemented it perfectly.
1 cup coursely ground cornmeal
3 cups water
Generous sprinkle salt
1 cup grated mozzarella
3 mushrooms, sliced
Chopped red pepper
6-10 halved cherry tomatoes (or sliced fresh or canned tomatoes)
Bring 2 cups of water of water to a boil in a large saucepan — with polenta, it’s better to err on the big side, since it likes to sputter all over everything! Mix cornmeal and salt with remaining cup of water, then add slowly to the boiling water, stirring well to avoid lumps. Cook over medium low heat for about 20-30 minutes until it’s good and thick, stirring furiously in the first few minutes to keep it from splattering all over everything. Once it’s calmed down, you can let it vent a little steam, just stirring every so often. Beat an egg with a small heap of parmesan cheese, then mix into the polenta once it’s cooked. Let cool a few minutes, then spread as evenly as possible along the bottom and sides of a greased 9×9 baking pan or casserole dish to form a thick crust. Bake 40-45 minutes at 350ºF. Meanwhile, sauté the onion, red pepper, and mushrooms. For the final 30 seconds, mix with Italian herbs. Remove from pan and let cool a few minutes, then toss tomatoes and arugula in the pan to coat with the remaining oil. When crust is ready, sprinkle half of the mozzarella on top, then the arugula, then tomatoes, then the rest of the mozzarella. Spread the sautéed toppings over the cheese, crumble a little feta on top, and bake for about 10 minutes more. Let cool a few minutes, then serve still warm and bubbly!