This dish is like a gift of pizza but without the pizza. And I almost find it better because if you're anything like me, it's not to overeat with pizza and feel full--to bursting. I ate the entire two servings here, smiling as I went, and did not feel abnormally full after. That counts for something. Let me be specific, though, on what you get with this recipe: Creamy, buttery polenta spiked with smashed peppercorns and garlic-slicked blistered baby tomatoes that get stuck to a coating of melty Parmesan cheese. Some of the parm burns into crusty shards.
That's the good stuff.
Notes: Butter is unsalted. Garlic-infused olive oil is by Baker & Olive.
PEPPERCORN POLENTA WITH PARMESAN BAKED TOMATOES
Ingredients: 1/2 cup fine yellow cornmeal, 1 1/2 cups chicken broth, 1/2 cup milk, 1 tbsp. butter, 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, a pinch of sea salt, 2 tsp. smashed peppercorns, and fresh parsley for serving. For the tomatoes: 2-3 tbsp. garlic-infused olive oil, 1/4-1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 1 cup small cherry tomatoes, halved, and 1/2 tsp. ground oregano.
1. Preheat oven to 400*F. Drizzle a 7x11 inch baking dish (or 9x9) with garlic-infused olive oil. Spread the oil using your fingertips into an even layer. Sprinkle over 1/4-1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese in an even layer, followed by the oregano. (Do not disturb once sprinkled.) Place the tomatoes cut-side down into the Parm. Bake for 20 minutes or until tomatoes are blistered and darkened and cheese is melted and blackened around the edges. 2. While the tomatoes cook, bring the milk, chicken broth, and sea salt to a simmer over medium heat. Stir in the cornmeal. Turn the heat down to low. 3. Cook polenta for 10-12 minutes until thickened. Stir in the peppercorns, butter, and parmesan. (If polenta is very thick, as in it does not have a "wave" when you stir it, add a little bit more milk.) 4. Spoon polenta into a large, shallow bowl or platter. Scoop up the tomatoes with the melted Parmesan cheese and lay over the polenta. Add fresh parsley. Serve immediately.