Roast vege stack with polenta and feta

The first time I ‘hosted’ a dinner party at home, I made this dish. I was cooking for my godparents, my parents and my little brother. All I can say is, I had a tantrum, I cried, mum saved the day.

On reflection this is a dead easy, very satisfying Autumn meal. I’ve made it multiple times since, for 3 times the number of people as that first attempt, my only hitch being (lack of) oven space for roasting the vegetables. You can really make it with any roasting veges you like, I have my favourites and I’m sure you do to. The tomato sauce is essential, you can make it with fresh tomatoes or canned tomatoes, depending on how luxurious you are feeling. If you use fresh tomatoes just make sure they are juicy ones. Make sure you buy the instant polenta, you don’t want to be stirring a pot of polenta for 40 minutes!

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Roast vege stack with feta and tomato-drowned polenta

Heat oven to 220 degrees celcius

1 large eggplant, sliced lengthways 1cm thick

2 courgettes sliced lengthways in thick strips

2 tomatoes for roasting, halved

2 red and yellow capsicums, or peppers if your american, sliced

4 portabello mushrooms

2 red chili’s finally sliced

4 whole garlic cloves, 2 chopped cloves

2 red onions, quartered 

a very generous amount of olive oil

salt and pepper

1/2 cup instant polenta

1 cup of chopped tomatoes fresh or canned

2 sprigs thyme, a few leaves picked off

a little sugar

1 small block of creamy feta, sliced into large flat triangles

toasted pinenuts if you feel like it

a handful of basil leaves to serve

Douse the roasting vegetables bar the chili, in oil and salt and pepper and toss till coated. Place on oven trays and cook in stages, starting with those that take the longest to roast, eggplant. Keep a close eye on the veges, flipping them 20 minutes in. They should take roughly 40-60 mins but it really depends on the oven. Use the warmer draw to keep the vegetables hot.

While you are roasting, make the tomato sauce. Heat oil in a pan and add the garlic, fry a little. Add the tomatoes, they should bubble and splatter, don’t be alarmed. Add the thyme, salt and pepper, and a tsp sugar. Simmer and reduce the tomato sauce. Taste test, it should be really flavorsome and and thick but still saucy enough to pour, if so take off heat. I tend to end up adding a lot of seasoning to make it really punchy.

For the polenta, follow the instructions on the back of the packet to make a thick polenta. Pour into a shallow dish and leave aside to set. after 10-15 minutes slice it into quarters.

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan and when hot, add the chili and fry for a little, just long enough to infuse the oil but without losing the colour of the chili. It will only be a few minutes.

To plate up, set your roast veges, feta, basil, pine nuts, polenta and tomato sauce on the bench together. Put each piece of polenta on each plate, and top each with 1/4 of the tomato sauce. layer the roast veges with slices of feta and bits of basil, then top with the chili oil, pine nuts and any remaining basil.

 

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