Fire-roasted Vegetables with Polenta Timbales

Flipping through Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Suppers cookbook, I was inspired by the prep photo for one of her meals. It showed roasted garlic, peppers and tomatoes. In her recipe those are pureed and poured over pasta, but I wanted to eat them whole (or nearly). And it seemed polenta would be the perfect accompaniment.

Serves two to three.

For the polenta timbales

4 cups water
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup dried polenta cornmeal
1 tbsp butter
1 ounce shredded medium cheddar

Bring the water to a boil in a heavy 3 quart pot. Immediately turn the heat down to medium, add the salt and then slowly pour in the polenta whisking while you pour. Continue to stir for a few minutes until the polenta thickens. Turn the heat to low and continue cooking for 40-45 minutes, stirring frequently and adding water if it becomes to thick.

Just before serving, add the butter and stir when melted. Then add the shredded cheese and stir in until combined. Adjust seasoning.

Scoop the polenta into small ramekins or bowls, about 1-1/2 cups per person. Invert the bowls on the center of the serving plates. You can leave the bowls on while you plate the rest of the food.

For the fire-roasted vegetables

4 Roma tomatoes
4 cloves of garlic, skin left on
1 tbsp olive oil
3 dried Guajillo chiles
1 dried ancho chile
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped celery
1 avocado
Sour cream
2 tbsp parsley, roughly chopped

Place the tomatoes and garlic in a cast iron skillet, drizzle with olive oil. Roll the garlic and tomatoes in the oil in the pan coating all sides. Place the skillet under the broiler and broil on high for 20-30 minutes, rotating the tomatoes and garlic as they roast. Remove the garlic from the plan as when it’s blackened on all sides. Continue roasting the tomates until blistered and slightly blackened. Remove and set aside.

Meanwhile, hold the chiles over a a flame with tongs and lightly toast each side, approximately 30 seconds. Extinguish them immediately if they catch fire. Place them into a small dish with a little bit of hot water to soften and let sit.

Place the same skillet on the stovetop on low and add the onion and celery and a little more oil if needed. Saute on low until the the onions and celery are softened.

Take one roasted tomato, one roasted Guajillo chile and place in a blender. Squeeze the garlic out of the skin and add to the blender. If any liquid has collected from the reserved tomatoes add this to the blender as well. Pulse and then puree until smooth. Pour this into the pan with onions and celery and heat to combine.

Slice the remaining tomatoes in half placing them cut side down around the polenta timbale on the plates. Pour the sauce over and between them. Trim the top of the chiles, pour out the seeds and then thinly slice them. Distribute the softest rings around the plate. Place dabs of sour cream around the plate. Gently tap and shake the timbales out of the bowls. Place two or three slices of avocado against the timbale and sprinkle the whole plate with parsley.

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