September 12, 2011

Polenta with Roasted Vegetables and Cabernet

When thinking of red wine for dinner, people often think of pairing red meat with it. So I was intrigued to find a vegetarian recipe that suggested a Cabernet Sauvignon as the pairing partner. The dish is again from Jill Silverman Hough's cookbook 100 Perfect Pairings: Main Dishes. The recipe is called Spinach and Parmesan Polenta with Grilled Vegetable Ragout and you can find all the main ingredients at your local farmers market at this time of the year.

The grill master of the house wasn't around that day, so I decided to oven-roast the vegetables for the ragout. It still tasted delicious. This was also the first time I ever cooked polenta, which is an Italian side dish made from cornmeal. It sort of reminded me of grits, and I am not exactly sure if I got the consistency right, but it tasted very good!

The recipe advises that polenta sets up and becomes firm soon after it is cooked, which is why I transferred any leftovers to a shallow dish while it was still warm and spread it out so that it was about a half inch thick in the dish. The next day I was able to cut the polenta into squares and pan-fried those squares in some butter. I served some sunny-side up eggs over the polenta and had a fantastic brunch dish!

Honestly, the next time I cook polenta, I think I will make it ahead of time, let it set up, and pan-fry it in butter again. I preferred it that way, and it also looked more appetizing with the nice crunchy outside.

The recipe suggests a Cabernet Sauvignon as the pairing wine, and I happened to have the 2008 Beringer Vineyards Founders' Estate Cabernet Sauvignon from California in the house. I found this to be a solid CS with dark fruit and cassis flavors and just enough oak to still be a pleasant and food-friendly wine. It definitely delivered for the price around $10. I was also very pleased by the combination with the hearty vegetable dish. Definitely proof that a vegetarian dish can be hearty and filling comfort food!

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