Dinner

By Madeleine Ignon | July 11, 2011

Photo: Madeleine Ignon

101 Cookbooks is among my favorite cooking blogs. Heidi Swanson’s vegetarian recipes are always inventive and the photography is beautiful. I found this recipe-a sort of polenta casserole cake-when I searched for things to do with cornmeal (besides make cornbread), and I made it for a dinner party. With only a few ingredients and a relatively short baking time, it falls under my favorite category of Easy/Cheap/Delicious.

I added black beans and Swiss chard to make it heartier and more colorful, but the recipe is delicious with just the cornmeal and caramelized onions.

Adapted from 101 Cookbooks, makes about 16 pieces.

  • 1 1/2 cups (medium grind) cornmeal
  • fine grain sea salt
  • 4 cups yellow onion, chopped (about 3 medium)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 3 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 1 can drained and rinsed black beans
  • 4-5 long stalks of Swiss chard, rinsed and chopped

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, racks in the middle. Butter and flour (or line bottom with parchment paper) one 9 x 12-inch baking dish or tart pan - or roughly this size. In a medium bowl combine the corn meal with 1 1/2 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir and set aside.

2. To caramelize the onions, heat a splash of olive oil in a large thick-bottomed skillet with a pinch or two of salt. Cook over high heat, stirring and scraping the pan occasionally - more often as the onions begin to get increasingly brown. Continue cooking until the onions collapse and turn deep brown in color. Remove from skillet and set aside.

3. Bring 1 1/2 cups water (or broth) to a boil in a medium saucepan, add the water and cornmeal mixture, bring back up to a boil and stir until it is thicker than a heavy frosting, 3-5 minutes. You may have to add a little more water since it thickens quickly and you want to still have it be moist. In a separate pan, saute the chard for about 5 minutes in a little bit of olive oil. It will cook more once it is in the casserole so the leaves don't have to be fully wilted.

4. Remove the cornmeal mixture from heat and stir in the cheese, 2/3 of the onions, the beans, and the chard. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan, spreading it to an even thickness, and drizzle with about 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the bottom is golden and the cornmeal begins to pull away from the sides of the pan a bit. Serve topped with the remaining onions (and more grated cheese if you like).

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