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Friday, February 5, 2010

Basil & Sun Dried Tomato Polenta Rounds

So, here we are. Eight hours of driving later, I am ready to see the space shuttle lift off tomorrow night... I mean morning. 4:39 am is a bit of a challenge, but sooooo worth it. We were able to come once before a few years ago and it was also a night launch. There is something about the night turning to day that really takes your breath away.

The reason we're here is because my husband served with one of the astronauts in the Air Force and they became friends. Actually, they were friends before that, having gone to college together, but that doesn't segue into this post very well. So, I am going to focus on the Air Force connection. Work with me, here, will you?

The reason is because the Air Force is ultimately the reason that this recipe exists. The different branches of the military have all sorts of camaraderie traditions. In the Air Force, the naming ceremony is a significant one. This is where a young man or woman receives their call sign. While I won't go into the gritty details, let it suffice to say that a naming ceremony often requires the eating of bizarre items by some of the participants.

When my husband went shopping in preparation for a recent naming ceremony, he tried to find things that he felt were weird, gross, or unusual. You know: dog biscuits, potted meat, raw eggs, and... pre-cooked polenta. I guess my husband wasn't the only one who didn't know what polenta was because while a few dog biscuits and raw eggs were consumed, the package of polenta was never opened. Ergo, it came home to be put into my pantry.

And there it sat for a while, until one night I couldn't stand that it kept rolling off the shelf, so I decided to do something with it. I liked the fact that it was already formed and that I could simply slice off pieces to saute in a skillet.

But, polenta, just being cooked cornmeal, needs a bit of flavor enhancement. I decided on sun dried tomatoes, basil, and Parmesan. Not only did they turn out beautifully, but they were pretty darn tasty, too... a darn sight better than dog biscuits, that's for sure!

Basil & Sun Dried Tomato Polenta Rounds
Yield: variable

1/2 thick slices of pre-cooked polenta from a roll
olive oil

Per polenta round:
1 tsp chopped fresh basil
2 tsp minced oil-packed sun dried tomatoes
1 tsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
dash salt and pepper

Preheat a skillet over medium heat. Add a light skim of oil. When the oil is hot, add the polenta rounds. Cook for 2-4 minutes on each side, until they have gotten a nice, golden crust. Remove the heat and add the basil, sun dried tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Let the pan's residual heat gently cook the tomatoes and basil. Serve with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

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