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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Polenta Stuffed Tomatoes AND Cucumber Salad

I have two awesome recipes for you today! 

Both are super simple summer time dinner recipes and were made with ingredients from my CSA box last week.  

Cucumber Salad:
Into a medium sized bowl I sliced up two cucumbers (I'm not very patient so mine were pretty roughly chopped up) and diced up half a pretty good sized red onion.  Then into a small mason jar (with a lid) I put in probably a couple table spoons of balsamic vinegar, maybe about the same amount of olive oil or just a little less, then some herbs.  I grabbed some herbs de Provence mixture, a little french thyme, and some black pepper. I also added just a touch of my raw honey.  Shook it up really well!  Then poured it over my cucumber and onions - tossed it all about.  Then I picked a good amount of fresh tarragon from my garden, tore it up into pieces and added it in.  I let the salad sit while I made the tomatoes!  It's really fantastic :)  I've never cooked very much with tarragon before but I'm loving this lemony herb!  

Polenta Stuffed Tomatoes: 
I'm going to share how I actually made this and how I think I would make this in the future to make it better. I started with the polenta, super easy.  Put a big pot of water on the stove to boil - 6 cups of water plus a pinch of salt.  Once it's boiling add 1 and 3/4 cups of yellow cornmeal.  Turn down the heat to low and just stir it occasionally to keep it from sticking.  This will cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, I just set a timer.  While that is cooking, you can hollow out your tomatoes.  Cut a hole in the top of them and scoop out their insides, I just used a knife for the hole and then my fingers.  This is where I would change things - At this point you should sprinkle the tomatoes very lightly with salt and set them upside down to drain some of the water out of them.  Mine were super super watery (which was just fine, I just had to cook them forever).  Also heat your oven to 350 or 400 degrees.  Once your polenta is cooked - turn off the heat and add in whatever flavorings you have on hand.  I had some leftover goat cheese from my last trip to the farmers market, plus I used some fresh basil & tarragon to pull in some similar flavors from my cucumber salad.  I put my tomatoes in a baking dish, spooned them full of polenta - I had plenty of it so I filled the entire baking dish with it, just tucked it around the tomatoes.  Then into the oven.  Since my tomatoes were very juicy and undrained, I ended up baking them quite awhile - almost 50 minutes.  If you have taken the extra time to salt them a bit and drain them, this may only take 30-40 minutes.  I also drizzled the top with olive oil and put a little garnish of fresh basil before sending the dish into the oven. Let the dish sit at least 20  minutes after coming out of the oven to rest.  

Remember - cooking is about experimenting  a little of this, a little of that.  If you don't have tarragon - use something else.  It will taste just fine.  I don't have my herbs labeled anyways, who knows if that even was tarragon! 

Always, J ♥