This Three Pepper Polenta is a practically perfect main dish for vegetarians but also pairs with pan-fried perch, chicken cutlets, roast chicken, tilapia, or deep-fried cod.
Plus, this polenta can be served in two ways: a hearty stand-alone dish full of caramelized goodness (great with a bold red wine) or lightened up with a quick refreshing salad made with tangelos and red onions (delicious with an IPA).
Either way, your palate will be pleased!
1 poblano pepper
1 red bell pepper
2 Cubanelle peppers
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
2 TBS olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
One recipe of Pimpin’ Polenta cooked to the puddle stage
1 tangelo (Minneola)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp honey
1 TBS white wine vinegar
2 TBS olive oil
Pinch of salt & pepper
¼ cup thinly sliced red onion
¼ cup toasted pumpkin seeds (optional)
Remove the stems and seeds from the peppers and discard. Slice the peppers in half and then thinly slice those halves into equal-sized pieces.
Heat a large skillet on medium-high. Add the olive oil. Add the peppers and onion. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Stirring occasionally to prevent scorching (you may need to reduce the heat down to low depending on your stove), cook for 15 – 20 minutes or until the peppers and onions are beginning to caramelize but are not mushy. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two more, being careful not to burn it. Taste for salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.
While the peppers are caramelizing, you can prepare the Pimpin’ Polenta.
To make the salad:
Zest the tangelo and place the zest into a small mixing bowl. Peel the tangelo and discard the peel. Remove and discard any pith that is still attached. Separate the tangelo into segments and then cut the segments in half. Set aside.
To the zest, add the Dijon mustard, honey, and white wine vinegar. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until the dressing is thickened. Taste for salt and pepper. Add the onions and tangelo segments and mix well in the dressing. Set aside.
To serve the polenta:
Pour the Pimpin’ Polenta in a bowl or platter. Top with the caramelized peppers and onions. If using the salad, then top the peppers with it. Sprinkle toasted pumpkin seeds over the top. Drizzle with olive oil. Serve immediately.
Don’t Freak Out!
1) You can make the caramelized peppers and onions ahead of time. Cool completely and then store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to three days.
2) Can’t find Cubanelle peppers? Substitute one green bell pepper and one yellow, orange or red bell pepper.
3) Slightly smoky, poblanos are a grab bag pepper: sometimes, they’re spicy and other times, just mild. If you like a bit of heat and your poblano disappoints, then add a pinch of red pepper flakes or cayenne.
4) Instead of making the tangelo salad, you can sprinkle the top of the peppers and polenta with the zest and juice of an orange to lighten up the dish.
5) While those puffy white salty prepared pumpkin seeds have their place (they’re good and gross all at the same time), I use pepitas or raw pumpkin seeds in this dish. I simply heat a pan on medium-high (you can leave the pan dry or add a small drizzle of olive oil), add the seeds, shake the pan for a few minutes until they are evenly golden brown, and then sprinkle them with salt. They’re really good and an unexpected little crunchy bite on top of the creamy polenta and juicy salad.
6) Make it vegan. Follow the vegan substitutions in the Pimpin’ Polenta recipe and substitute ½ tsp agave nectar or 1 tsp white sugar for the honey in the Tangelo Salad.