Mediterranean Polenta Loaf

We had this yumminess last night for dinner, along with soup and salad.  The recipe is from the Vegetarian Times cookbook, with a few tweaks (they ask for parmesan, I use pepperjack, they grill, I broil).  You can make this creamier by adding butter or a bit more cheese while cooking the polenta.  Next time, I think I will add some crushed red pepper flakes to the boiling water to infuse a little more heat into it, and probably add some fresh parsley and dill for a bit more flavor.

Ingredients

1 cup cornmeal

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

3 oz pepperjack cheese, shredded

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

1/4 cup olives, chopped

1 cup canned artichoke hearts, chopped

Directions

1.  Bring four cups of water to a rolling boil in a saucepan.  Add salt and pepper.  Over medium heat, slowly stir in the cornmeal a little bit at a time, trying to keep lumps from forming.  Cook over medium to low heat, stirring continuously, until the water is absorbed, the cornmeal starts pulling away from the sides of the saucepan, and your spoon can stand up straight in the polenta.

2.  Stir in the cheese until it has melted.  Add the sun-dried tomatoes, olives and artichokes, and mix to distribute evenly.

3.  Spoon into a lightly oiled pan or dish (size and depth do not really matter… just pick a size based on how thick you want your polenta loaf) and put aside to set.  This can be done up to a day in advance of serving.

4.  About 20 minutes before serving, place the polenta loaf under a broiler for about 10 minutes, or until the top of the loaf starts to brown.  Remove from broiler and allow to cool for a few minutes.  Cut the polenta into whatever size pieces you want and serve warm.

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Fiesta Bowls!!! (Yes, fiestas require three exclamation points… always.)

These little guys make a great appetizer.  You could even set out all the ingredients (along with any other fillings/toppings you enjoy) and let your guests build their own bowls.  Carnivores can include the cooked meats of their choice, too.  Enjoy!

Ingredients

12 small (5- or 6-inch) corn or flour tortillas

One can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 avocado, peeled, pitted and chopped

1 cup roasted poblano and bell pepper salsa (or other salsa of your choosing)

1 cup pepperjack cheese sauce

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

Directions

1.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Tuck the tortillas into the wells of a 12-muffin tin to form small bowls.  Corn tortillas have a tendency to tear, so be a little careful when using corn tortillas.  Bake until the tortillas are crisp.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.

2.  Fill the tortilla shells with black beans and avocado.  Top with salsa and cheese sauce.  Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve.

Tortilla shells can be kept in a tightly lidded box or tightly sealed plastic bag for a day or two.

Pepperjack Cheese Sauce

Use this yummy, easy, cheesy sauce as a warm dip for veggies or fries or bread (keep it warm in a fondue pot), in quesadillas, over tacos, on my Fiesta Bowls… really, on anything that needs a hint (or hammer) of spice and a heap of cheesy goodness.

Ingredients

1 tbsp unsalted butter

1 tbsp all-purpose flour

1 cup skim milk

1/2 cup shredded pepperjack cheese

1/2 cup shredded colby or mild cheddar cheese

1 to 3 tsp red chilli flakes (depending on your spice preference)

Salt to taste

Directions

1.  Melt butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat.  Add the flour and whisk to combine.  Cook, whisking continuously, until the raw flour smell is gone.  Slowly add the milk, whisking to blend and break up lumps.  Keep heating the mixture until it begins to thicken, being careful to keep it from coming to a boil.

2.  Slowly add the cheeses, whisking to combine.  If the sauce becomes to thick, add a little bit of milk.  Add the red chilli flakes and allow to cook on low heat for a few more minutes.  Taste and add salt if needed, although there should already be salt from the cheese

Et voila!  You’re done.  Serve warm.  Can be kept refrigerated for several days.  Thin with milk if the sauce thickens too much.