November 14, 2010

~ POLENTA & SQUASH TORTA ~




I came up with this recipe recently, while visiting a friend in Italy. Seeing all the vibrantly-colored squashes in the outdoor markets inspired me. I came home with a gorgeous red kuri squash, dug through the cupboards and got cooking. The prep time is about an hour, but you can make it ahead (up to two days) to the refrigeration point and finish it in the oven when you're ready. This would be a vegetarian recipe by simply omitting the bacon (gasp!), unless you're a vegetarian who doesn't eat cheese, in which case my blog is probably not for you - heeeee.

POLENTA & SQUASH TORTA
Ingredients:
1 lg. onion, chopped
3 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 T. butter
Salt
4 sprigs thyme, leaves stripped
3 T. sweet Marsala wine
5 c. vegetable broth
1 1/2 c. coarse polenta
1 lb. Kuri or Kabocha squash, prepared (see below)
4 slices meaty bacon, fried and crumbled
1/2 c, sour cream OR 3 oz. cream cheese
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated

Begin by preparing the squash. Quarter it (be careful), seed and peel. Cut into about 1 inch chunks and place in large saucepan.Barely cover with water and bring to a boil. Simmer gently for 25-30 minutes, or until very soft. Drain well, then mash to a puree and set aside. In a saute pan on medium-low heat, combine 2 T. of the olive oil, the tablespoon of butter, a generoussprinkling of salt, thyme leaves and the chopped onions. Saute very slowly, stirring occasionally,until onions caramelize. Take your time with this. It will take about 40 minutes. If they start browning too quickly, add a tablespoon of Marsala to slow them down and lower the heat to continue. Once the onions are caramelized, add the Marsala to deglaze the pan, then add to the squash puree, along with the crumbled bacon. While the onions are cooking, get out a large, non-stick stock pot.Combine the broth and polenta, whisking well. Bring to a boil, whisking often to keep it smooth. Reduce the heat to a bare simmer, whisking often, and cook the polenta for at least 30 minutes, until it is very thick. Remove from heat and stir in the squash puree mixture and the sour cream, stirring until smooth. Butter a deep, 10 inch pie plate or a shallow, round casserole. Pour the polenta in, smooth over the top and allow to cool completely in the refrigerator to set. You can cover it at this point and wait up to 2 days to bake the torta. Unmold the polenta torta upside down onto an oiled baking sheet, brush it with olive oil, and bake in a 375F oven for 40 minutes. Cover top of torta with grated Parmigiano cheese and bake 10 more minutes, finishing briefly under the broiler to brown the cheese. Cut into wedges and serve.
Serves 6-8 as a main course with a salad.

1 comment:

Rowena... said...

Delightful! I'm really taken with the part where you unmold the whole thing and bake....ooooh, all that melted cheese must smell divine. This would've been excellent with what I made for Sunday's big lunch - a little italian-ness to round out a swiss tradition. I gotta try this.

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