Don’t you love it when you cook a meal you know you could have at a restaurant, and it’s better at home than out? So it was with dinner tonight.
My hopes were high, due in part to some fantastic food photography in the cookbook I was flipping through. (Sorry that my pictures can’t compete…) Who could resist such browned and slightly crisp butternut squash and cauliflower nestled atop creamy polenta? Not I. Paired with grilled pork chops and a spinach salad with a simple vinaigrette, the meal was colorful, with orange squash, yellow polenta, and green spinach. It was balanced, with starch, veggies, and protein. And it was true to the season. It was also delicious, in the way that food is when textures oppose but tastes complement.
I adapted the original recipe to my liking, relying on a more foolproof method for cooking the polenta and intensifying the creaminess with a little half & half. I also roasted the vegetables in olive oil rather than extra-virgin olive oil, since the latter is best as a finishing oil. To recapture that flavor, I drizzled EVOO over the vegetables prior to serving.
In a restaurant, I would’ve ordered a seasonal fruit dessert, perhaps an apple tart or a cranberry bread pudding. Tonight we had chocolate chip cookies instead. But I’m not complaining because they were baked as a daddy-son project this weekend, and my son was very proud to serve them to us when the plates were cleared.
Roasted Butternut Squash, Cauliflower and Onions with Creamy Polenta
Adapted from EatingWell in Season by Jessie Price and the editors of EatingWell
1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into bite-sized cubes
1 onion, sliced thin
2-4 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup cornmeal
1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
2/3 cup Parmesan cheese
Half & Half or cream
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss cauliflower, squash and onion with olive oil (use your judgment — vegetables vary in size and thus so does the amount of oil you need), sprinkle with salt and pepper, and place on a cookie sheet. Roast 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until browned. When done, taste for seasoning and add more salt or pepper as necessary.
Meanwhile, boil 3 cups of water. In a small bowl, combine 1 cup of water with 1 cup of cornmeal and 1 tsp salt, then add cornmeal to the boiling water. Turn heat to medium low and stir until thickened, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in cheese and enough Half & Half or cream to smooth out the texture. Serve immediately with roasted vegetables on the side.