Polenta and Eggplant Sandwich

Polenta
3 1/2 cups water
2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
Eggplant Filling
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/2 cup chopped sweet green pepper
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 medium-size (1 pound) eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup red wine or water
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 cups mesclun or mixed greens (optional)

1. Several hours or days ahead, prepare Polenta: Butter the bottom and halfway up the sides of two 9-inch square baking pans. In 2 1/2-quart saucepan, heat water to boiling over high heat. Meanwhile, in medium-size bowl, with wooden spoon, combine milk, cornmeal, and salt until blended; slowly stir into boiling water. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until mixture is very thick and mounds when dropped from spoon--about 8 minutes. Divide polenta between buttered pans, tilting each pan to spread mixture evenly. Set aside to cool. Cover each pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm--about 2 hours or overnight.

2. Prepare Eggplant Filling: In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, celery, and green pepper; sauté 3 minutes. Stir in garlic, basil, and the red pepper; sauté 1 minute. Add eggplant and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes with their liquid, red wine, and sugar; cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in parsley; cool eggplant mixture to room temperature.

3. Just before serving, heat broiler. With knife, loosen Polenta around inside edge of each pan; invert each pan onto a baking sheet and gently unmold Polenta. Top each Polenta with 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Broil just until cheese melts and browns lightly.

4. To serve, cut each Polenta into 4 squares. Place one square on each of 4 serving plates; top with Eggplant Filling. Cover filling with another Polenta square, creating 4 sandwiches. Cut sandwiches diagonally in half; garnish each plate with 1/2 cup mesclun, if desired, and serve.



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