An Italian holiday: arugula polenta with oven tomatoes

An evening in rural Italy, close to Bologna. Sitting on a terrace, overseeing the soft silhouette of hills around you. A dog and a cat lying beside the dinner table, lazy and happy about the fresh evening breeze after a sunny and piping hot day. A red wine in your hand you watch the sun going down, everything is coloured in orange light. This is the moment the waiter arrives at your table with the most delicious looking, juicy dish. You can smell the wonderful scent of ripe tomatoes and basil, the flavours of the mediterranean. See the setting? This is where a recipe like the following comes from and it brings you to that place after only one bite, I promise. It is a variation on a theme found in Donna Hay’s book “Off the shelf”.

Ingredients (serves two as a main course, four as a starter):

  • 8 small to middle sized tomatoes, halved
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 3 tablespoons basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • pepper to taste
For the polenta:
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk or rice milk
  • 1 cup quick-cook polenta
  • 1 cup/1 big handful arugula
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • optional: 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese for finish

Preheat the oven to 400° F (200° C). Put the tomatoes, cut side down, in an oven proof dish. Combine the oil, vinegar, agave nectar and basil leaves, pour over the tomatoes and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes or until the tomatoes are soft. In the meantime make the polenta. Place the water and milk in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil. Slowly whisk in the polenta. Reduce the heat and cook the polenta, while stirring, for 3-5 minutes. Stir through the olive oil, arugula, pepper and salt. Spoon the polenta onto serving plates, top with the tomatoes and juices and (optionally) finish with the grated parmesan.

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