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  • Sister Clare Josef-Maier

Hearth & Table - 1/16/2020

It's possible you've never had polenta before; or, maybe you had polenta every week throughout your whole childhood. In either case, this week, polenta was the star of the show - a food you want to know! Chef Ryan's "Pumpkin polenta w/ roasted veggies & easy tomato sauce" (recipe below) was the foundation of the perfect winter meal - hot, comforting, delicious, and vibrant. Sprinkle a little parmesan on top (or not) and you're off to the races. Add a side of salted nuts and fruit platter with balsamic reduction and honey, and your belly will be thanking you for a long while to come.

Hearth & Table is a program in which we strive to balance accessible, affordable ingredients and recipes that can be realistically replicated by students without culinary degrees and treating you all to a nice, restaurant-quality meal for free. It's a tough balance to strike, but we double-down by offering students the opportunity to sign up to volunteer in our weekly community kitchen, where you can volunteer alongside Chef Ryan and benefit from his decades of experience in professional kitchens.

If you've never dined with us - give us a try! We'd love to meet you.

And don't forget... keep scrolling for the recipe below!

Pumpkin polenta w/ roasted veggies & easy tomato sauce

Serves 6


Pumpkin Polenta:

6 C water

1 ½ C coarse-ground cornmeal (a.k.a. polenta)

1 sm. can pumpkin puree

1 lemon, zest & juice

Salt & pepper to taste

Easy Tomato Sauce:

2 T olive oil 2 onions, small diced

½ head garlic, cloves peeled and sliced

1 T dried basil

1 - 28 oz can crushed tomatoes

Salt & pepper to taste

1-2 lbs roasted vegetables, kept warm *see “Roasted Vegetable Guide”, below*

Shredded Parmesan cheese & chopped fresh rosemary, to garnish (optional)


1. In a large pot, bring the water to a boil. Using a whisk, slowly stir in the polenta. Immediately reduce the heat to medium-low. Using a wooden spoon, stir the polenta frequently (don’t let it stick to the bottom of the pot!) for about 15-20 minutes, or until the polenta is fairly tender. Mix in the pumpkin puree, lemon zest & lemon juice, and season to taste (salt & pepper). Cover and set aside.

2. In a large saucepan or small pot, melt the 2 T olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook for 10 minutes, then turn the heat to medium and add the garlic and dried basil. Cook for 2-3 minutes more, then add the crushed tomatoes. Stir well, then season to taste.

3. Serve the polenta topped with the tomato sauce, roasted veggies, and parmesan cheese & fresh rosemary (if using).

Roasted Vegetable Guide​ ​– Oven usually at 400.

Cut vegetables bite-sized or a little smaller. Try to get them as uniform in size as possible. Most vegetables can be prepped in advance, though onions and garlic should be fresh. Toss each separately with oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl and put in a single layer on a sheet pan. Cook veggies separately and combine at the end. Season with an interesting spice or spice blend and/or fresh herbs. Be sure to get some acidity in there as well.. some lemon juice or a splash of vinegar. You can vary the seasoning with the same produce to get different dishes.

Cook for how long​? Simple answer is to taste and check for doneness, but it helps to have a guide:

Potatoes: 35 min

Onions: 25 min

Zucchini: 15 min

Broccoli: 15 min

Cauliflower: 20 min

Turnips: 25 min

Asparagus: 7 min

Fennel bulb: 20 min

Mushrooms: 40 min

Tomatoes: 15 min

Kale/collard greens: 15 min

Cabbage: 25 min

Brussels sprouts: 25 min

Bell peppers: 12 min

Winter squash: 30 min

(Assume items are cut bite-sized or a little smaller, and oven is at 400 degrees. And oven door stays mostly closed.)

And that's it - enjoy!

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