Creamy Aged Cheddar Polenta with Roasted Vegetables

Sometimes I’m a little behind on trends. Like how it took me about a year to figure out who Adele was and then was all, wow I really like this Rolling in the Deep song! Luckily I have friends who were kind enough to explain that it kind of gets played a lot and everyone is beyond sick of it.

Fail.

I was totally late to the polenta party too. Polenta is great. When creamy, you can stir in cheese and herbs and top it with meat, seafood, veggies, nuts – anything, really. It’s sunny, warming and completely comforting. It looks really good with some lightly caramelized roasted vegetables too.

The first couple of times I made polenta I was happy to do all of that stirring business. But soon I found myself avoiding the chore of policing a pot of cornmeal altogether. Stirring? I got things to do!

Then I stumbled upon the solution of baking my polenta. Simply place 1 part polenta and 5 parts water in an over-proof dish and bake for 45 minutes or so, until the liquid is absorbed and it’s at its desired consistency. Minimal stirring required!

No-Stir Creamy Polenta with Aged Cheddar
1 cup coarsely ground polenta
5 cups water
small knob of butter
salt
3 fresh thyme sprigs, picked
1/4 cup grated aged cheddar cheese

Preheat Oven to 375 F/190 C.

In an oven-safe dish, combine polenta, water, butter, salt and thyme. Place in the oven and cook for 40-50 minutes, giving it a stir or two toward the end – until desired thickness.
Remove from oven and stir in grated cheese. Top with roasted vegetables or other desired toppings.

For Roasted Vegetables:
Chop orange carrots, purple carrots and a yellow bell pepper into bite-sized pieces. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt, a teaspoon of sumac and a teaspoon of thyme. Spread on a baking sheet and cook for 20 minutes or so, until soft and golden. Serve on top of creamy polenta with grated aged cheddar.