This week we welcome another guest writer, Becca Velasco—a young professional who loves cooking, but is often short on time, faced with the demands of work. Becca looks for simple recipes that translate to quick, flavorful meals tonight, yet slide easily into a satchel for tomorrow’s lunch (when, I imagine, they’re the envy of the office).
Becca’s Roasted Tomatoes and Onions with Polenta reminds us that not only is it okay to turn to a few convenience items now and then, it’s actually a brilliant move in support of an even-tempered household. (And the strategy will tide us over as we wait for Freshness Farms’ deliveries to restart.) We can always add a few fresh items, depending on what’s in the fridge; perhaps toss some cubed fennel or broccoli into the roasting pan, or sauté roughly chopped greens, like spinach or chard, and stir them into the mix. While the veggies roast, it would be wise to take a moment to kick off our shoes, open a bottle of wine and relax. Once the perfume of roasting garlic and onions begins to waft through the kitchen, we’ll be glad we resisted the temptation to grab carry-out on the way home.
While I love these roasted vegetables over polenta as Becca suggests, they would be equally inviting on their own, or tossed with cooked pasta or whole-grain farro. Even spread across toasted baguette for the easiest dinner of all. Now, onto Becca’s post…
After contemplating for months whether or not to start my own food blog, I took the invitation to write a guest post for Four Cooking Together as a sign that the answer was “yes!”.
As a young, 20-something professional who loves to cook, my experiments in the kitchen usually center on affordable yet homey dishes that are easy to pull off after a long day at work. One of my favorite things to (quickly!) cook and enjoy on a weeknight is roasted vegetables. They’re comforting, easy to execute with little time standing over the stove, and great for leftovers next day! This week I put an Italian spin on the carrots, brussel sprouts, and parsnips I usually roast and decided to adapt a recipe I recently found in The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook for roasted tomatoes and cipollini onions. And keeping with the Italian theme, I decided to put them over fried polenta slices and sprinkle with goat cheese… because who doesn’t love anything with goat cheese?
- 1 bag frozen pearl onions
- 1.5 lbs cherry tomatoes
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped (Ann’s note: add more, if you love garlic, as I do)
- olive oil
- coarse salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 15 oz. can white beans
- 1 pre-cooked polenta log (I got mine at Trader Joe’s)
- small handful basil leaves, roughly chopped
- 1/2 goat cheese log (or about 2 oz.)
- Preheat the oven to 375°. While the oven is heating, rinse the pearl onions with water to remove any ice. Bring a pot of water to boil, and drop the onions in for 15 seconds. Drain completely.
- In a large bowl, mix the cherry tomatoes, onions and chopped garlic with a generous drizzle of olive oil, until well coated. Sprinkle generously with coarse salt and pepper and spread contents of bowl onto a rimmed baking tray. Roast the tomatoes and onions for 50-55 minutes, reaching in with a spatula every 15 minutes or so to roll the tomatoes and onions around and ensure they get cooked evenly.
- When the tomatoes and onions have about 10 minutes left in the oven, cook the can of white beans over a low flame, just to heat through. Once hot, drain the beans and set aside. (Ann’s note: since I’m always looking for a shortcut, I simply drained the beans, straight from the can, then stirred them into the roasting pan during the last minute or so of cooking.)
- Cut your polenta log into slices about ¾ inches thick. Coat a large pan with olive oil, and warm over medium heat. Use tongs to place polenta slices in the pan, and cook for about 4-5 minutes per side. Repeat until all slices have been cooked through. If the oil spatters excessively during cooking, turn the heat down a notch.
- Arrange cooked polenta slices on a large serving platter. Top with white beans, roasted tomatoes and onions, and chopped basil. To finish it off, crumble goat cheese over the top of the mixture. Serve immediately!