Clara Gluten Free

Sauteed Polenta + Brussel Sprouts

The plan was to make something hearty and comforting without being either macaroni and cheese or tuna melts or peanut butter and jelly, which is a tall order in my house. So I decided to go the polenta-and-brussel-sprouts -and fried tomato- route. Of course. 

I've found that brussel sprouts taste like mini-cabbages if you eat them raw, but are remarkably rich and filling and savory if they are sauteed brown and drizzled with a bit of butter and salt/pepper. I'd make them everyday, if I hadn't promised to introduce new veggies to the menu slowly. As for the polenta, I found quinoa polenta (because in my book, there is no such thing as too much quinoa) at the store, in one of those nifty tubes. I sliced it moderately thin (about 1/4") and topped with lightly fried tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. Torched, to melt the cheese of course. The richness of the polenta and cheese with the acid of the tomatoes worked remarkably well together- not so heavy as to feel like I needed a steak knife to eat it, but still hearty. This went very well with the brussel sprouts, which means that I have figured out a new comfort-food meal. Definitely an achievement. However, one observation, well actually two: First- I fried the tomatoes in only a little bit of oil to soften them up and deepen/brown the flavor, but I've found that this only works if I dry out the tomatoes first. Otherwise they end up really slimy. And second- slimy is not comforting. Its, uhh, slimy. 

Polenta with Fried Tomatoes and Mozzarella- makes about 15 pieces 

Polenta (from a tube), sliced into 1/4" pieces
3 medium tomatoes
approx 1 1/2 cups fresh, sliced or shredded mozzarella

1- slice the tomatoes into 1/4 slices, cover a plate with paper towels, sprinkle with salt. Lay the tomatoes on top, sprinkle with salt, and cover with more paper towels. Lay a flat cutting board on top and weigh down (the toaster works well). Let stand for 30 minutes

2- Heat medium non-stick or cast iron frying pan or saute pan to medium heat. Brown both slices of polenta, being sure to flip them carefully. 

3- Meanwhile, heat a large frying pan to high heat and cover the bottom of the pan with a tablespoon or two of oil. Place the tomatoes in- and be sure to a splatter screen, as burning bits of oil or tomato juice will be apt to escape. After 2-3 minutes (or when sufficiently brown), carefully flip the tomatoes.

4- Lay out the polenta slices on a glass cutting board, top each with tomato and mozzarella. Torch to melt the mozzarella. Alternatively, do this on a broiler-safe pan and broil for a bout 3-5 minutes, or until the cheese is brown and melty. Serve once the cheese has cooled and set a bit. 

Sauteed Brussel Sprouts- serves 6

About 4 cups of brussel sprouts
High-temperature oil
2 tbs butter, melted
salt + pepper

1- Wash the sprouts, trim the stems and ugly leaves off and quarter.

2- In a pan preheated to high-heat, saute the sprouts, with the lid on the pan (this will make the sprouts steam  and cook softer) for about 15 minutes or until almost sufficiently brown. Remove the top to crisp up the sprouts. 

3- Combine the butter, salt and pepper. Remove the sprouts from heat, and place in a large serving bowl. Drizzle with butter mixture and serve immediately. 


  1. Great post, I've always loved brussel sprouts, and adding the polenta is a great additon of flavors. Two great ways to cook them are to roast them in the oven until they crisp up a bit, or sauté them with pancetta or bacon in a little olive oil.

    1. Roasting the two- that does sound good. I didn't think of that (I was dead-set on using new cast-iron cookware on top of the stove...) that seems like it would be a great way to blend the flavors. Maybe cut the polenta into cubes? And I bet you could add the pacetta/bacon or saute. Anyway- thanks for the suggestions! Will be sure to try them!