Pasta and Polenta

Tonight’s dinner was fantastic and garlicky, just the way I like it. I went with a gluten-free meal, in practice for when my celiac friend comes to visit over the No-Turkey Day holiday.

This is a wonderful corn and quinoa macaroni tossed with a very simple sauce of olive oil, crushed red pepper, basil, salt, pepper and garlic. The difference here was that I heated up the olive oil and tossed in five whole  but slightly crushed garlic cloves to give the oil flavor. After about a minute or two, I removed the garlic and set it aside. Then I added in one teaspoon of salt, one teaspoon of red pepper flakes, a few grinds of black pepper, and 4 cubes of basil that Trader Joe’s sells in their freezer section. Once those were mostly melted, I tossed in the cooked and drained pasta. The hot oil tends to give the pasta a wonderful texture that becomes almost slightly chewy. At the end of it all, I also chopped up the garlic i removed and added it back in. It was soft and mushy. If I had left it in while I tossed the pasta around, it may have become burned and bitter and that just plain old sucks, my friend.

Our  side dish tonight was equally simple although, I must admit, I had to start it early in the  day so that it would be nice and firm for baking in the oven.

You take one cup of corn meal, four cups of water, one teaspoon of salt and place them in a large pot over high heat. Stir often. When it comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium and continue stirring constantly for about five to ten minutes or until thickened. At the end, you add in your julienne sun-dried tomatoes and about one teaspoon of crushed rosemary. Pour into oiled 9X9 baking dish and refrigerate until firm, quite a few hours.

Later on, you cut the lump into triangles and don’t worry about accidentally removing tomatoes during cutting, it happens. When those tomatoes come into contact with hot oil, you’re in for a wonderful chewy sweet treat. Now, you take your triangles and you can bake them in a 400 oven for about 25-30 minutes or you can fry them in hot oil until browned on each side. I haven’t ever had much luck with frying polenta cakes, they usually turn into piles of mush with a little crispness here or there. If you think you can do it, go nuts. In fact, tell me your secret because I blow at it.

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