Polenta with Ciambotta con Carcioffi

More than just an Italian tradition, this stew is loaded with complex B vitamins in the corn, and the stew contains artichokes, one of the most antioxidant-rich veggies we know. Along with the rest of the nutrient-dense veggies, this dish is more than just sexy…it’s good for your heart!

Makes 4-5 Servings

Ingredient List: 

1 cup fine corn grits
5 cups spring or filtered water
Pinch sea salt
extra virgin olive oil
Unsweetened almond milk

Ciambotta con Carcioffi
1/2 pound eggplant, unpeeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
5 large cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
Large handful of fresh basil, stems removed, chopped
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
3/4 pound new potatoes, or any waxy potato, scrubbed and cut into 1 x 2-inch pieces
1/2 pound canned artichoke hearts (in water, not oil)
3 zucchini, large dice
1 large or 2 small sweet red or yellow peppers, seeded and cut into 1 x 2-inch strips
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Step By Step Instructions: 

Make the polenta: Place all ingredients except oil in a sauce pan over medium heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until it boils. Reduce heat to low and cook, whisking frequently until the center of the polenta bubbles or heaves, about 25 minutes. Stir in a drizzle of oil and almond milk and spoon into a bowl. Keep warm so the polenta stays soft. Serve immediately for a soft polenta.

Toss the eggplant cubes in a colander with 2 teaspoons salt. Let it sit in the sink until it starts to sweat out the bitter juices. Rinse them, drain, them and pat the eggplant dry, squeezing a little.

In a large pot, heat the oil. Add the onion, garlic, and celery. Add a pinch of salt and sauté over high heat for about 5 minutes, adding a little water as necessary to prevent sticking and burning.

Add the basil and sauté for 2 minutes; then add the tomatoes. When it comes to a simmer, add the eggplant, potatoes, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir, bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.

Add the artichoke, zucchini and peppers and simmer 15 minutes more, or until all of the vegetables are tender. Taste for salt and pepper, transfer to a warm serving bowl, and allow to stand 15 minutes before serving.

To serve, spoon polenta into individual bowls with stew mounded on top.

COOK’S TIP: You can make this spicy by adding crushed red chili flakes when sautéing the onions and garlic.