Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Tuesday Do-Little Dinners: Cheesy Polenta with White Bean and Tomato Sauce

Are you ready for the next installment of Do-Little Dinners? This week's recipe, one I clipped out of some now-forgotten magazine several years ago, is a Do-Little superstar: it has got to be the easiest dinner ever. Truly--it's not much more work than opening up a frozen pizza, and it's a lot healthier. Plus, in our house, even the pickiest of eaters gobbles it up. Kids love polenta! Happy eating!

[Note: the microwaving times are approximates. They work great for my current microwave, but with a lower-powered microwave you may need to increase the time in order to get all the water absorbed. You want to end up with a nice thick, creamy polenta the consistency of mashed potatoes. Also--you MUST use a wire whisk for the stirring. A spoon or fork will NOT work for polenta.]

Cheesy Polenta with White Bean and Tomato Sauce
4 servings

1 cup yellow cornmeal
3-1/2 cups water
1 tsp. salt
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 15-oz. can white northern (cannellini) beans, drained and rinsed
1 T. fresh basil, chopped---or 1 tsp. dried basil
salt and pepper to taste

In a large microwave-safe mixing bowl, combine cornmeal, salt, and water with a wire whisk, whisking until there are no lumps. Cover with a large microwaveable plate. Microwave on high for 7 minutes. Remove from microwave, uncover, and whisk again (it will still be very watery). Return to microwave; cook for 5 more minutes. At that point, remove bowl from microwave and stir with whisk again. Polenta should be thick but soft, like mashed potatoes. Whisk in cheese.

While polenta cooks, combine undrained tomatoes, drained/rinsed beans, and basil in medium saucepan and simmer until polenta is done. Add salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, put a generous scoop of cheesy polenta in a bowl. Top with a ladle or two of sauce.

Add a salad or some fruit and you've got a yummy, balanced, vegetarian meal that only took 12 minutes. You can't beat that!

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