Monday, June 20, 2011

From the Grill: Polenta Stack With Navy Bean Salad

Hello wonderful readers!  We had a fantastic time in Alaska last week, and if I ever finish sorting and editing the 200+ photos I took, I will share a little recap with you.  When we arrived home at noon on Saturday after traveling since 7AM Alaska time on Friday, I can assure you that I had no energy to cook or shop for food.  So, when I woke up inexplicably bright and early on Sunday, I hustled over to the market to restock our kitchen before the weekend masses descended on the store.  Aside from a few setbacks (forgetting my shopping list and a crazy delay at the deli), I escaped with food for a few days, and a great meal planned for dinner last night.

As you know, we love cooking on the grill.  Charcoal grilling can be a lengthy process, so we reserve it for weekend evenings when we don't have anything else going on.  Lounging around on the porch waiting for the coals to heat often results in us eating dinner on the late side, but it's always worth the wait.  And the hundreds of cheese and crackers I eat in the meantime.  Although I know many people (including my husband) would disagree, one of the drawbacks to grilling for me is that it almost always involves meat.  I enjoy a good steak every once in a while, but most of the time I would rather eat vegetables.  And cheese.  But you knew that already.  This recipe is a great vegetarian option for the grill.  Grilling vegetables involves a little prep work, but once the chopping and marinating is done, cleanup is easy, especially if you cook everything in foil.

Polenta Stack With Navy Bean Salad
adapted from Self Magazine

Cooking spray
2 15 oz. cans navy beans, drained and rinsed - I used cooked dried beans, and just estimated about 3 cups
1 lb. tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup basil chopped - I also included some fresh oregano, because I'm so happy to actually have herbs growing in my garden
8 oz. feta, cubed
1 tube (18 oz.) prepared polenta, cut into 16 slices
1 lb. zucchini, summer squash, or a combination, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
Balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper

In a bowl, combine beans, tomatoes, basil, oregano, half the feta, and red bell pepper in a bowl.  Splash with some balsamic vinegar, and season with salt and pepper.  Allow to sit while you heat the grill.

Heat a grill to high if you're using gas, or get the coals hot if you're on charcoal.
Spray each of four 18 inch long pieces of foil with cooking spray.
Place 1/4 of the bean mixture in the center of one half of the piece of foil.  You will be folding it to make a packet at the end, so make sure you leave enough of a border.
Top with sliced squash.  I marinated the zucchini and summer squash in Italian salad dressing, because I bought extra and an eggplant to grill alongside.  Grilled vegetables and goat cheese wraps are one of my favorite summer lunches.  
Place 4 slices of polenta on squash, and sprinkle with remaining feta.

Fold foil to close and pinch edges to form a sealed packet.
Grill for at least 10 minutes, and up to 20.  The contents will steam and the flavors will meld.
This made 4 very large servings.

We served alongside grilled corn.  I didn't take any process photos of the corn, but it was pretty straightforward.
Soak shucked ears in water for 10 minutes.
Spread with butter.
Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and whatever seasonings you want.  We went with chili powder and garlic.
Roll in foil, and grill for 15-20 minutes.  You'll hear the kernels starting to pop when it's almost done.


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