This is a dish I was only introduced to about 5 years ago. My sister-in-law invited us over for dinner and asked how we felt about roasted veggie ragu with creamy (and cheesy) polenta. I’d never had it before, but since her food is always wonderful, I knew it would be delicious.
When we got there, the house smelled absolutely amazing. She served up the roasted veggie ragu atop perfect polenta. While the adults savored every minute of dinner, the kids were slightly less than impressed. No matter. I needed the recipe.
This is a dinner that takes some time. We don’t make it often, although it is wonderful for a cold winter night. Knowing the kids didn’t care for it the first time, the next time we had it we put a small portion of the ragu in the blender with a little water, turning it into a smooth but flavorful sauce. We served it over pasta for the boys, and they loved it.
My kids aren’t a fan of the polenta at all. I know, it’s crazy, but I think in the future they will come to love it like I do. This last time we made it they ate the ragu off the top, with one of them even asking for more of the veggies.
What makes the ragu is the kalamata olives. They add a surprising something that would certainly be lacking if you left them out. The veggies, however, can certainly be adjusted based on your families tastes.
Oh, and if you have leftover polenta – roll it into a log, wrap it in plastic wrap, fry 1/2 inch thick medallions in the morning and top with a poached or fried egg. Perfect way to start your day!
- 3 small to medium zucchini
- 1 large eggplant
- 1 large sweet onion
- 1 large red bell pepper
- 3 large cloves of garlic
- 3 – 4 cups Crimini mushrooms
- 1 cup pitted Kalamata olives
- ¼ cup Sicilian oil cured olives (pitted)
- 1 32oz. can crushed tomatoes
- 1 32oz. Can whole fire roasted tomatoes
- ½ tsp ground fennel seed
- ½ tsp dried basil
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 Tbls sugar
- ¼ tsp crushed red pepper
- 4 cups of water (approx.)
- Chop all veggies (including olives) into approximately 1 inch cubes and place in a large roasting pan, sprinkle with salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, drizzle with olive oil and roast at 400 for about 30 minutes.
- Remove from oven and drain off liquid given off by roasting veggies (reserve this liquid, you will add it in later).
- Turn the oven up to 500 and roast an additional 30 minutes – stirring occasionally.
- Remove from oven and add herbs, sugar, reserved liquid, and tomatoes, stir well and place back in oven at 300. Roast for an additional 2 hours at 300 stirring in water 1 cup at a time, every 30 minutes or so.
- The Ragu should end up being thick and dark (not burned).
- 2 cups polenta
- 4 cups of water
- 4 cups of 2% milk
- 2/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- ½ cup crème fraiche or sour cream
- 3 Tbls. Butter
- 2 tsp salt.
- Bring water, milk, and butter to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Stir in salt and polenta. Stir for 3 – 4 minutes until the mixture is smooth and lump free and has started to thicken. Cover with a tilted lid, cook at a LOW simmer for 50 minutes – stirring every 10 minutes. I use a whisk at first to make sure nothing is sticking, then a spatula to fold and clean the sides of the pot. After the 50 minutes, add in the Parmesan and sour cream and continually fold with the spatula until incorporated.
- This recipe will easily feed 6 – 8 people.