FARMER’S MARKETS ARE LIKE DISNEY WORLD: ABLAZE IN COLOR, YOU’LL SPEND MORE THAN YOU PLANNED, AND YOU’LL LEAVE FEELING LIKE YOU HAVE BEEN SOME PLACE MAGICAL…
There’s something really spectacular about wandering around a local farmer’s market on the weekend. My inner hippie loves being surrounded by so many varieties of gorgeous, vibrant foods, but those brilliant colors are more than aesthetically pleasing; the rich shades are actually derived from chlorophyll and anthocyanin, which are basically nature’s gift wrapped up in food. You can read about the 10 Benefits of Chlorophyll if you are a fellow nerd and love learning to the max. If you want to know about the nutritious benefits that come with different colors of veggies and fruit, check out this article “Colors of Vegetables & Their Nutrients.” Or, you can just take say, “Produce is the best; I’m convinced!” and carry on with this recipe 🙂
As much as possible, I try to support local farmers who practice humane farming methods and produce GMO free crops. I recognize that usually this is a little more expensive, but I consider it a true investment in not only my health, but supporting these farmers in producing food that benefits the health of others. Washington, D.C. never has a shortage of fabulous produce to choose from, and I came across a gorgeous assortment of tomatoes. With no particular recipe in mind, I bagged them up and soaked up the rest of my pristine weekend. D.C. weather has been oh so kind to us lately, and Samuel and I have been taking advantage of it as much as possible with outdoor excursions and patio brunches with friends.
I try to plan my weekly menus + grocery list on Sundays, and whilst (I’ve been catching up on Downton Abbey—GIVE ME ALL THE ACCENTS) staring at my lovely tomatoes, I remembered a fabulous meal I had during one of my trips to Italy. The dish featured amazing mix or aromatic herbs and roasted tomatoes over a bed of creamy polenta, and it.was.to.die.for. Maybe it was because I was in Italy, or maybe I was delirious from the sun, but I felt like I was in heaven. While I will never claim to be an expert on Italian cuisine (or well, really any cuisine!), I am most definitely willing to give any recipe a try! One thing I do know from Italian cooking courses I’ve taken is that exact measurements are really just…well…mere gestures. There are no such things as exact measurements. Pile on the seasoning, use a luscious olive oil that you could practically drink, and don’t be afraid to go bold with your salt.
TIME: 10 minutes for creamy polenta, 20 if you choose to bake it.
- 1 cup cooked polenta each serving
- 2 cups baby spinach or kale
- 1/4 cup goat cheese or grated pecorino romano
- 1 cup Roasted tomatoes
- Portobello mushrooms
- Crush garlic cloves
- Salt/Pepper to taste (be generous with polenta mix)
- 1 TBS of thyme (or use several sprigs of fresh)
- 1 tsp basil
- 1 tsp oregano
→ TIP: Italian cooking is bursting with flavor! Use fresh herbs when you can, and definitely don’t hold back on the seasoning. I use way more spice than what I listed, because I like some spice, spice, baby! (sooooorry! Couldn’t resist!)
- Saute veggies with seasoning and crushed garlic while you bring water to a boil. Set vegetables aside.
- Drizzle olive oil, thyme and oregano over tomatoes (can use oil spray dispenser to save calories)
- Roast tomatoes on 400 for about 5-7 minutes.
Bring 3 cups of water to a boil; add 1/4 cup of dry instant polenta in to water slowly, stiring continuously as you do so.
Add grated cheese or goat cheese to polenta, and season heavily with salt.
Pour polenta into bowl, sprinkle with seasoning, and top veggies on top. Grate additional cheese on top of veggies. Serve hot.
→ TIP: Very lightly saute kale of baby spinach; they will continue to cook when heated veggies get piled on top of them. Or, toss in bowl with a little bit of olive oil and thyme to preserve more enzymes.
Pour polenta into oiled casserole pan; sprinkle extra seasoning over “crust” and top with veggies. Grate additional cheese over veggies, and cook for about 15-20 minutes, until polenta reaches desired texture. Serve with freshly grated cheese over it.
And that’s it! Incredibly simple but full of flavor. As I sat down to enjoy it, the delicious aroma took me back to my most recent trip to Italy. Now, if only I could figure out how to make a truly legit gelato…but we’ll leave that for another day! Much love and lots of spice, from my kitchen to yours!