This is a really delicious meal that only takes a minimal amount of effort to prepare (although it takes a while to cook itself in the oven). Polenta is another fabulous Italian food that doesn’t get as much publicity as pizza and pasta. For this recipe you need the kind of polenta that looks like a block of cheese, not the one that looks like a packet of flour. It can (hopefully) be found near the dried pasta in supermarkets.
Ingredients for roasted polenta with aubergine (serves 2):
– 2 medium aubergines
– A packet of polenta
– A little olive oil
– Zest of 2 lemons
– A little lemon thyme
– A good splash of soya cream
I’ve included the aubergine cooking method (and pictures) from the Aubergine Roulade with Lemon and Tarragon Sauce which is inspired by Ottolenghi but simplified a bit. Today I did it in a different oven and found that the aubergines took longer and I had to finish them off in a saucepan. To be fair though, I did start off cooking them on gas 6 rather than 7 and this particular oven is rather idiosyncratic with the flames at the bottom and not the back.
1. Preheat the oven to gas 7 (220 C)
2. Top and tail the aubergines and place on a baking tray, whole. Roast for about 45 mins-1 hour until the skins are really charred and the aubergines feel soft when a knife is inserted. You can turn them once half way through cooking but this isn’t essential.
3. When the aubergines only have about half an hour left, slice the polenta, brush with a little olive oil and place on a baking tray on a lower rung of the oven. You’ll probably want to turn them once. When I made this meal I was only cooking one aubergine so put the polenta slices alongside it on the baking tray. They should cook fine on a lower rung though and you could always temporarily swap rungs with the aubergines if you felt they needed an extra boost of crispiness.
4. When the aubergines are ready, remove from the oven, cut open lengthways and scoop out the flesh. It may help to steady the aubergine with a fork and scoop out the flesh with a spoon. You may want to cut up some of the larger pieces (kitchen scissors are useful for this).
5. Place the aubergine flesh in a pan and add the lemon zest, lemon thyme and a good splash of soya cream. This is where we rebel against the packet, as the one enclosing Sainsbury’s lemon thyme says it’s ‘perfect with poultry fabulous with fish’. I can think of some much kinder ways to use it though, including this one. Heat gently for around five minutes until piping hot, stirring constantly.
6. Remove the polenta from the oven, arrange the slices on plates and top with the aubergines.