For the first recipe of 2013, I’m turning to a big, bold and spicy Italian dish. It starts with a pool of pungent puttanesca sauce, followed by a layer of baked eggplant, topped with hearty polenta and drizzled with a creamy basil-tofu sauce. It gets finished off with a few capers on top.
This is a healthy dish that is anything but boring. Puttanesca sauce is a tart, salty and slightly spicy sauce made with olives, capers and anchovies. The punch of the puttanesca gets mediated by the silky tofu which, if you’ve never used before, has a mellow, nutty flavor. Enjoy this dinner, knowing it is healthy and nearly vegetarian.
After two weeks in California, I need to hit the reset button with something like this polenta. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I spent some good time with friends and family, all framed by a background of delicious food. Traveling from San Diego to Santa Barbara, I revisited each of my favorite food memories. There were bean and cheese burritos from my favorite hole-in-the-wall Mexican place. There was the rich albondigas soup followed by hefty margaritas in Santa Barbara. Then there was home, where my mom greeted me the first morning with a hot plate of huevos rancheros, a breakfast that signaled a marathon of cooking. In essence, the most important question of each day was, “what’s for dinner?”
I have so many recipes to write up, including many created in my mom’s kitchen. But, for now, I’ll shift gears to an old Italian favorite that won’t disappoint.
Polenta Puttanesca with a Silken Tofu Sauce
sauce adapted from Once Upon a Cutting Board
- 1 eggplant, sliced into 8 rounds
- 1 package polenta, about 24 ounces
- 1 package silken tofu, about 12 ounces
- 1 cup basil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp. capers
- 1 jar puttanesca sauce, about 2 cups (I love Trader Joe’s sauce or you can make it at home with this recipe)
- Cooking spray
- Salt and pepper to taste
1. Arrange the eggplant on an oiled baking dish. Mist the top of the eggplants with some cooking spray. I use olive oil cooking spray but you can also use an oil mister if you have one. I don’t recommend adding olive oil directly to the eggplants because eggplant tends to soak up oil like a sponge. Just a spray is enough. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper.
2. Bake the eggplants at 450˚ until tender, about 25-30 minutes.
3. Remove the polenta from the package and cut into 12 round slices. Arrange on an oiled baking dish and add it to the oven, baking for 10-15 minutes.
4. While the eggplant and polenta are baking, start on the silken tofu sauce. Empty the container of tofu into a blender or food processor. Add the basil, garlic and capers. Blend until smooth. Taste to see if you want to add salt or pepper.
5. Heat up the puttanesca sauce on the stove top or in the microwave. Remember to cover it because tomato sauce makes a splattering mess.
7. Plate it up! Add 1/2 cup puttanesca sauce to the bottom of each plate. Layer on 2 of the eggplant slices. Top with 3 polenta slices. Drizzle 1/4 of the silken tofu sauce on top. Finish by sprinkling a few capers over the dish.
Yields: 4 servings
Serving Size: 1/2 cup puttanesca sauce, 2 eggplant slices, 3 polenta slices, 1/4 of the tofu sauce
Weight Watchers Points+: 9
Calories 319, Carbs 41g, Fat 12g, Protein 12g
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