Polenta Hearts Over French Lentil Ragout

Serves 4.

Note: This makes plenty of food for two people to enjoy for tonight’s dinner and tomorrow’s lunch, or for a family of four. There will be scraps of polenta leftover from cutting the hearts. These are delicious, so go ahead and pile them in a tangle at one end of the baking sheet and broil them alongside the hearts. They make a great breakfast or bowl meal, with a few veggies and scrambled eggs or tofu. Vegans can make this with unsweetened almond milk and margarine, and skip the Parmesan cheese. From Robin Asbell.

• Olive oil, for pan

• 4 c. whole milk, or almond milk

• 6 tbsp. butter

• Salt

• 2 c. polenta

• 1 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, shredded, optional, divided

• 1/2 c. French lentils (labeled as French, Puy or Beluga lentils)

• 6 tbsp. olive oil

• 2 large onions, chopped

• 2 large carrots, quartered lengthwise and chopped

• 4 garlic cloves

• 2 tbsp. fresh rosemary, plus more for garnish

• 1 (14-oz.) can petite diced tomatoes

• 1 (14-oz.) can tomato purée

• 1 c. white wine

• 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper

• 1/2 c. fresh parsley


Oil or butter a 9- by 13-inch pan.

In a heavy saucepan, heat the milk, butter and 1/2 teaspoon salt. When hot, drizzle in the polenta while whisking. Stir with a wooden spoon over low heat as it thickens. Cook, stirring often, for about 15 minutes. It will be thick enough for the spoon to stand up in the pan. Stir in 1 cup Parmesan, if using, and stir until melted. Spread the polenta evenly on the prepared pan. Cover and chill. This can be prepared up to 2 days in ahead and refrigerated, covered.

In a 1-quart pot, place the lentils and cool water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat, cooking for about 30 minutes. Add water as needed. When the lentils are just tender, but not falling apart, drain them in a wire strainer. Return to the pot and let cool.

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and carrot and stir for at least 5 minutes, reducing to medium-low as they start to sizzle; cook them longer if you have time.

When the onions are tender and golden, add the garlic and rosemary and stir briefly, then add the tomatoes, purée, wine, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the lentils, and simmer for a few minutes just to heat and blend with the sauce. This can be prepared up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated, tightly covered.

Use heart-shaped cookie cutters to cut the polenta, and transfer to an oiled sheet pan. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, if desired, or simply oil the tops of the hearts. Warm the ragout and have dinner plates ready.

Place an oven rack 6 to 8 inches from the broiler and preheat the broiler. Watching closely, broil the polenta until the tops are well browned and the cheese is bubbling. Warm the lentil ragout and serve, sprinkled with parsley and topped with polenta hearts.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 680 Fat 35 g Sodium 1,080 mg

Carbohydrates 79 g Saturated fat 11 g Total sugars 27 g

Protein 19 g Cholesterol 35 mg Dietary fiber 15 g

Exchanges per serving: ½ milk, 5 starch, 6 fat.