I suppose these recipes would qualify as side dishes and I can envision them snuggled up to roast chicken, lamb or maybe even a rosemary rubbed pork loin. But over the years as I’ve skirted in and out of being vegetarian, I’ve come to feel that side dishes can be a satisfying and filling meal on their own. So more often than not, I serve this meal by itself.
I’ll leave that choice to you of course. You can also make one dish without the other, serve them side by side, or as I do piling the vegetables atop plated beds of this flavorful polenta.
Roasted Root Vegetables
This is not a real recipe, but a method. Any combination of root vegetables works, so feel free to add or subtract as you please.
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Set out a rimmed baking sheet.
2. Peel sweet potatoes, yams, onions, beets, carrots and/or parsnips if using. Cut into equal sized pieces (as best you can). Place vegetables on baking sheet.
3. Coat vegetables in a generous about of oil, salt and pepper. Toss and spread the vegetables out so they are in a single layer. Do two trays if needed.
4. Bake vegetables for 25 minutes. Flip vegetables over and bake for another 15 to 25 minutes or until tender and caramelized.
Savory Onion Cheddar Polenta
Save yourself the trouble of having extra cornmeal to store and purchase a small amount of polenta in the bulk section.
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup well diced onions
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 quart (4 cups) chicken broth or vegetable broth
1 cup polenta (coarse ground cornmeal)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup shredded aged white cheddar (Local Cougar Gold is my favorite.)
1. In a medium-large pot melt the butter over medium high heat until the foam subsides. Add the onions and salt. Cook until onions are soft. About 5 minutes. Add the broth. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil.
2. Slowly sprinkle in the polenta stirring as you pour. Turn the heat to medium and cook for 20 to 25 minutes stirring frequently until the polenta is thickened and soft to taste.
3. Turn off heat and stir in pepper and cheddar. Serve immediately or pour into a 9x13 inch pan to set. Once cool, cut polenta into squares.
Recipes and pictures by Laura Flowers.