Polenta lava with roasted veggies

Polenta is a favorite in the Jensen-Hickey household. It’s also a fave of everyone I’ve shared it with! This is the perfect recipe for a creamy polenta and all you need to do to top it off is pile on a ton of roasted veggies! Not only is the polenta deviously creamy, but the vegetables are vibrant and full of vitamins and flavor.

One of the other wonderful things about this recipe is it’s completely versatile. You can roast any combo of veggies that you’d like. So if you hate mushrooms (how dare you!), just leave them out. Or if you have some left over carrots in the fridge, like we did, toss them in!

You can also make just the roasted veggies and use them as a side dish for a meat course or use them in your scrambled eggs. (Mmmm.) The other fantastic way to use this recipe is for breakfast! Make a single serving of the polenta without the romano and top it with some of the veggies and a poached egg. So gooood!

Directions: Preheat oven to 450ºF. Cut up all of the vegetables to approximately the same size, keeping the tomatoes and garlic separate. Generously coat a large roasting pan with cooking spray. In a large roasting pan, place the peppers (any color), mushrooms, zucchini, eggplant and pearl onions (we used frozen to save time). Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon oil and 1 and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Toss to coat. Roast for about 15 minutes; toss and roast until browned in spots and at desired degree of doneness, about 20 to 25 minutes more.

While the veggies are roasting, toss the tomatoes with remaining tablespoon oil, garlic, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, basil and parsley in a medium bowl.  Set aside and let stand at room temperature for 20-30 minutes.

Shortly after you toss the veggies in the oven, pour the broth, milk, bay leaf, and a few sprigs of thyme into a medium saucepan and bring to a slow boil over medium heat. When the liquid starts to bubble, slowly pour in cornmeal, stirring continuously with a small whisk. (If you add it all at once, you’ll get huge gobs of solid gooey polenta. It’s weird.) Reduce heat to low and cook, and keep stirring! Whisk whisk whisk away! The polenta is done when it’s thickened and smooth (~8 to 10 minutes). Once you have the desired consistency, stir in the romano and 3/4 teaspoon salt until thoroughly combined.

Once the vegetables are done roasting, remove the pan from heat and add the tomato mixture. Toss to combine. Cover with aluminum foil if the polenta is not yet finished.

Spoon vegetables over polenta and garnish with thyme.

Serves 6. (WWpts+ = 8 per serving)

One of the easiest ways to start working on a healthy diet, besides eating more fruit and veg, is portion control. This recipe is healthy and filling, but it’s only healthy if you eat the proper amount. For the recipe I’ve shown here, you should divide the meal into 6 servings. There are a few ways of doing this:

  1. My favorite: use the scale. I have a kitchen scale that I love, and it makes portion control super easy. Just weight the total mass of the food you prepared, and divide by the number of servings. Easy and reliable!
  2. The next best thing: immediately portion out equal sized servings in tupperware. That way you can’t get greedy when making yourself a portion the next day.
  3. If you have something that’s “splittable,” just divide into the number of servings you want. We did this for the veggies by using a spatula to make 6 little hills of veggies.

That being said, most cookbook portion sizes are straight up wrong. Terrible offenders include Giada De Laurentiis and Rachael Ray cookbooks (sometimes Ted Allen too). I have WeightWatchers to help me figure out the proper portions for my meals, but if you’re trying to do this on your own, here are a couple of guidelines.

  • One box of pasta is 8 servings or more, hands down. The pasta on its own should look about the size of your fist. If you want more food than that (don’t we all?), add a side salad (no oil) or add veggies into the sauce to give yourself more volume.
  • A serving of meat is 3 oz. If you don’t have a scale, you can estimate it to be about the size of your palm, no fingers included.
  • If you’re buying prepared food, check the label carefully. You might see “100 calorie” for chicken apple sausages, but is that for 1 link or is it for 3/4 of a link? Trader Joe’s is also a big offender, which makes me so so sad. Their frozen meals that are  obviously just meant for one person are often times 1.5 or 2 servings. I’ve contacted them several times about this, and they blame regulations, which is not remotely true, but that’s a topic for another day.
  • If you’re eating out, odds are the salads are just as bad for you as the entrees because of all the delicious tidbits they put in there. Instead opt for a grilled fish entree or a seafood stew. Most fish is a light protein, so you can eat more of it!

If you portion your food other ways, please share! I’d love to have more tips at my disposal!



2 thoughts on “Polenta lava with roasted veggies

  1. Made this recipe last weekend using yellow squash, eggplant and mushrooms and portioned it for lunches. It was great!!!! Since I had some polenta left over, topped it with mushroom Italian sauce. Thanks!

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