January 13, 2011 • Appetizers,
I’m always trying to switch up the appetizers I serve. I mean, aren’t you a little tired of the same hot spinach and artichoke dip at every party you go to? And I like to use ingredients maybe some folks wouldn’t immediately think of – like polenta. These tasty little bites are easy to make. First make the polenta, then spread it out in a baking sheet to cool in the fridge overnight. The next day, cut into 2 inch squares and plop a bit of basil pesto onto each one.Top each with a couple of thinly sliced strips of roasted red peppers……then sprinkle with either grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese or shredded mozzarella. Bake until heated through and the cheese has melted and serve.
Now here’s a secret: although I make my own polenta, pesto and roasted peppers, you can buy all three at your local grocery store and save time if you need to. Buy the precooked polenta in a tube and slice into rounds. Buy the roasted peppers in a jar, drain, and slice. And use pre-made pesto from the Italian aisle of your store. In fact, keep these 3 things on hand along with some cheese and you can whip these up on short notice when guests drop by for a snack that will surprise and delight your guests!
- 6 cups water, or stock
- 2 cups polenta
- ⅓ cup pesto sauce
- 2 whole red peppers, roasted and peeled
- 3 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded OR grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- Bring water or stock to a boil and whisk in polenta and continue whisking until thickened. Cook until no longer coarse, stirring frequently. Spread cooked polenta into a baking pan to a ¾ inch thickness and chill until set. Slice polenta into 16 squares and lay on a nonstick baking sheet. Slice roasted pepper into 24 short strips. Remove from oven and spread pesto evenly over polenta slices, then top with two pepper slices in a criss-cross pattern. Lay a piece of mozzarella on top and bake until polenta begins to brown, about 5-10 minutes. Serve warm.
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