For the first time ever, I almost forgot to post a recipe. The Creamy Polenta with Ratatouille recipe and pictures were made and edited ever since Sunday but I forgot to write my post last night. I didn’t realize it was Tuesday already. Days have been passing by soooo fast lately. Whenever we have several appointments on one day (yesterday we had 3, one of them being the kids’ dentist appointments) the day is so rushed I feel like we didn’t really live it. I picked up the kids from school at noon like always, rushed home to make them a sandwich for lunch, 10 minutes later my friend and babysitter came to watch my daughter while I went to 2 of my son’s appointments, then rushed back home to pick up my daughter and go to the kids’ dentist appointments. At 4 pm my husband called to ask if it was ok to have three dinner guests over that night and of course I said yes. I (WE) love having people over to share food. It is my favorite social gathering. The short notice, however, was a bit of a challenge. I had to work with whatever I had in the fridge and I didn’t necessarily want to develop a recipe then. What if it didn’t turn out delicious? When in a rush, stick to proven recipes. And, it all had to be done FAST!
Mmmmm….I have chicken, I have rice, I have coriander, I have veggies, I have ají….Bingo!! Peruvian Arroz con Pollo. A traditional dish my mom used to make us a lot because it is soooooo goood!! What I did do in terms of experimentation, was develop a dessert because I figured the worst case scenario would be to serve ice cream or something like that if it didn’t turn out. The Pear Tart tasted so great though, that I will make it again today so I can take some photos for you guys and share the recipe. So simple and so delicious!
The dinner party was a full success. Husband came home just in time to get the kids ready for bed. I was finished cooking and still had time to sorta pick up the kitchen so at least it wouldn’t look like a bomb had exploded in it. The kids fell asleep right before the first guests arrived and we enjoyed a wonderful evening with good food, some beer and lots of laughter with our friends. Friendship is worth more than gold and diamonds, especially when far away from family. Both, my husband and I, were so used to constant big family gatherings that we felt a bit lonely when moving abroad. Of course, we have each other and we have our kids but we used to have so many more family members around us it almost felt like eating “alone” when it was just the two of us. Having good friends over is just as wonderful and soul nurturing as meeting with family. We’ve been here in Montreal for a little over 2 years now and I feel like we have finally made the real kind of friendships. The true ones. We have several different groups of friends, the “Mexicans”, the “Germans”, the “Industry’s”, the “Moms”….and they fill our world and we love it. This is probably the hardest part every time we move. To start friendships from scratch. Who can you trust? Who is compatible with you? It takes time to find out things like this and it takes time to get to that point where you can say, this is a “true” friend. With the “Industry’s” friends we are sometimes lucky. They move just as much as we do and we bump into them every so often in different countries and it is wonderful to hear someone we love is moving to wherever we are living right now.
Now, to get to this Creamy Polenta with Ratatouille for once….this is one of those meals that are tooootally suitable for a dinner party with true friends. It is a “cosy” meal. A heart-warming bowl of deliciousness. The perfect vegetarian dish to share with others. Much to my husband’s sorrow I am not a big fan of eggplant. I really wanted to make him some though because I got a beautiful one in my weekly produce box this week. I figured making Ratatouille would be my best bet. There are so many other vegetables in it, the eggplant doesn’t stick out thaaat much. My mom used to make us Ratatouille to hide the eggplant all three of us sisters didn’t necessarily like and all I could taste was eggplant and I hated it. I gave it a go though and am really, really happy with the result. I still believe Ratatouille would taste much better without eggplant, however I was able to enjoy this heart-warming recipe a lot. I especially liked the cheesy creamy polenta. It goes so well with the Ratatouille. And the smell that comes from the bubbly Ratatouille together with the corn smell of the polenta is HEAVENLY!!
Creamy Polenta with Ratatouille
- 1 yellow onion
- 1 clove garlic
- 6 tomatoes on the vine
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 yellow bell pepper
- 2 large zucchinis
- 1 large eggplant
- 1 tsp fresh rosemary
- 1 tsp fresh thyme
- 1 cup corn meal
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese (freshly grated)
- 3 Tbsp butter
- Wash eggplant and cut into 1/2" (1cm) pieces, put in a bowl and generously salt tossing the pieces with your hands. Place in a strainer and stand on a plate to catch the moisture, set aside (this is to remove the bitterness of the eggplant).
- Peel onion and finely chop.
- Peel and crush garlic.
- Wash tomatoes and quarter them.
- Wash and deseed bell peppers and cut into 1/2" (1cm) pieces.
- Wash zucchinis and cut into 1/2" (1cm) pieces.
- Chop rosemary leaves until gathering 1 tsp.
- Remove thyme leaves until gathering 1 tsp (no need to chop they are very small).
- Heat a large heavy bottomed saucepan over medium (!) heat. Once hot add a large dollop of olive oil and let it heat up shortly (maybe a minute).
- Add chopped onion and crushed garlic and toss until slightly browned.
- Add rosemary, thyme, about 1.5 tsp salt, a couple rounds black pepper and tomatoes and toss until tomatoes start melting and become mushable with a spoon (about 15 minutes into cooking).
- Add bell pepper, reduce the heat to medium-low (!) and cook until the bell pepper starts to get soft (about 20 minutes).
- While waiting for the bell pepper to cook start preparing the polenta. Bring 4 cups of water to the boil in a pot. Once boiling, slowly pour in the polenta while briskly stirring with a whisk. Once the polenta sticks to the whisk, use a spoon to continues stirring until the polenta doesn't set at the bottom of the pan anymore (the whole stirring in, takes maybe 3 minutes). Reduce the heat to low (!), cover and set an alarm for 15 minutes.
- Add zucchini to the Ratatouille pan, mix well and cover again and cook until the zucchini starts to get soft (about 15 minutes).
- Grate Parmesan until gathering about 1 cup of cheese.
- When the alarm for the polenta goes off, add cheese and stir vigorously. Then cover again and set an alarm for another 15 minutes.
- Add the eggplant to the Ratatouille pan, mix well and cover again and cook until the eggplant is done (about when your polenta is ready).
- Once the alarm for the polenta goes off, remove the polenta from the heat, add butter and serve in deep plates.
- Season the Ratatouille with salt and pepper if still needed and spoon out onto the polenta.
- Enjoy with friends and/or family!