Recipe: Grilled Polenta, Madeira Mushrooms, and Spicy Roasted Tomato Sauce
I went grocery shopping today, and as I meandered around the store, my cooking wheels got to rolling as I spotted polenta and kale. I’ll admit, my creation tonight was a joint inspiration of the grilled polenta dish at The Geiser Grand Hotel and the Roasted Tomato Sauce at Rupert’s Hotel McCall. But my genius of combining the two concepts and flavors was all my own. Some days it’s good to be me.
This dish is rustic Italian, and as such, I think it should be kept true to the fashion and just cooked from the heart each time it is made rather than following an exact recipe. So that’s how I’m going to present it to you. I’ll tell you basically what I did, but I’m going to leave it up to you to put it all together, tasting as you go, to create something delicious, healthy, and unique to you.
How to Make Spicy Roasted Tomato Sauce
To make this sauce, you need to roast some tomatoes over/under very high heat. This heat source could be an open fire, a broiler in your oven, or on your BBQ grill. I did mine on the grill.
- Pre-heat your grill (or fire, or oven broiler) to high, as in 650°.
- Place 5 medium-sized tomatoes in a pan (I used cast iron), drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
- Place 1 garlic clove per tomato in the pan as well.
- Place pan on the grill (or broiler, etc.) and close the lid. Roast in this manner for around 15 minutes, or until tomatoes get soft and start to show signs of charring.
- Mash the tomatoes with a spatula/spoon, spreading the juices all around the pan. Close lid again and cook for another 5 minutes, or until juice has reduced thoroughly.
- Remove from grill and scrape tomatoes and garlic into a blender.
- Blend, adding water, to form a smooth, loose sauce.
- Season sauce to taste with salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and smoked paprika.
Yum. This will make a bit more sauce than you need, but the extra is awesome on pasta, eggs, or bread.
How to Make Balsamic Sauteed Kale with Garlic
If you’ve never cooked kale before, you really need to give it a try. It’s sweet, very lightly bitter, and maintains a great firm texture, unlike so many other greens. It’s terrific, and pairs with this polenta dish extremely well.
- Chop a bundle of kale into bite-sized pieces, discarding bottom stems. One store bought bundle will form about 4 cups or so of pieces.
- Place into a saute pan with a bit of water (maybe a 1/4 cup or so), drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, cover and saute over medium high heat.
- The kale will turn a beautiful bright green after a few minutes. Season with salt, black pepper, and a pinch of red pepper (optional). You could serve it now with that bright color, but cooking longer will soften the stems and leaves more.
- Drizzle lightly with balsamic vinegar. This will lesson the bitterness of the kale even more, and add a nice sweet and sour zing.
- Add garlic slices, about 5 cloves thinly sliced.
- Cook covered for another 10 minutes, or until the kale is dark green in color and the leaves and stems are soft (kale will keep it’s firm texture regardless, but you want to cook it until it is no longer crunchy)
- Taste and re-season with salt and pepper if necessary.
How to Make Madeira Mushrooms
You will need: 2 portabella mushrooms; 3-4 garlic cloves, chopped; roughly 2 ounces of Madeira wine; fresh or dried thyme to taste; about a 1/4 cup of chicken, beef, or vegetable stock; olive oil, and 1 tablespoon of butter.
- Slice the portabella mushrooms a little less than 1/4 thick, then cut in 1.5 inch pieces
- Heat olive oil in saute pan until hot.
- Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook for a couple of minutes until they begin to soften (they will absorb all of the oil).
- Add the Madeira wine, garlic, and thyme.
- Saute until all of the liquid has been absorbed.
- Add the butter and cook until mushrooms start to brown, stirring/tossing to brown evenly.
- Add the stock and cook until the mushrooms are dark and soft. You may need to add more stock or water to keep them a touch saucy.
How to Grill Polenta
Store bought cooked polenta is cheap, low calorie, and super easy to prepare. You could make your own I suppose, but the pre-made polenta in 18 ounce tubes is just too simple to resist. For this dish, remove the polenta from the tube, cut off the rounded ends, and slice lengthwise into 4 even thickness long rectangles (they’ll have round edges of course).
- Drizzle both sides of the polenta with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
- If you accidentally break the polenta at all, secure it back together with toothpicks.
- Place the polenta on a very hot grill (after you removed your tomatoes for example) or inside on a very hot grill pan.
- Polenta likes to stick, so be careful when removing it with a spatula to flip it. Turn the polenta after about 5 minutes on the grill.
- Cook on the other side for about 3 minutes.
How to Plate Grilled Polenta, Madeira Mushrooms, and Spicy Roasted Tomato Sauce
Place the sauteed Kale on side of plate. Pour Spicy Roasted Tomato Sauce over rest of plate (re-heat the sauce first if not warm). Take the polenta straight off the grill and stack 2 slices on top of the tomato sauce. Top the polenta with half of the Madeira Mushrooms. Optionally, garnish with chopped parsley, fresh thyme, or chopped chives. Makes 2 plates.
It’s beautiful, healthy, so very delicious, and only about 580 calories per plate.
The Bald Gourmet creates delicious restaurant inspired meals from everyday grocery store items, like today’s Grilled Polenta, Madeira Mushrooms, and Sauteed Balsamic Kale with Garlic.