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Sweet Corn Polenta with Bell Pepper & Tomato Salad
“Serve this simple vegetarian side dish warm or room temperature alongside grilled meats and a stacked summer salad. A flash under the broiler leaves these slices of corn-studded polenta golden on the outside and soft on the inside; an herby, smoky tomato-pepper salad acts like a salsa to be spooned over the top.”
5 cups water
1 cup coarsely ground cornmeal or polenta
1 cup corn, fresh or frozen
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon ground pepper
½ teaspoon salt
2 medium red and/or yellow bell peppers, halved and seeded
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, such as basil, mint and/or tarragon
1To prepare polenta: Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce heat to low and gradually add cornmeal, whisking constantly to prevent clumping. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the polenta is creamy and reduced to about 4 cups, 50 to 60 minutes. (If the mixture is too stiff, loosen with 2 tablespoons water.)
2Add corn, Parmesan, butter, pepper and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cheese is melted and the corn is tender, about 5 minutes. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Pour in the polenta and let cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours or up to 1 day.
3To prepare salad: Position a rack in upper third of oven; preheat broiler to high. Place peppers cut-side down on a baking sheet. Broil, rotating the pan once, until softened and charred, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let steam for 10 minutes. Rub off the blistered skin and coarsely chop the peppers. Combine with tomatoes, 2 tablespoons oil, vinegar and salt in a medium bowl.
4Position a rack in upper third of oven; preheat broiler to high. Cut the polenta into 12 squares and place on a baking sheet. Brush both sides of the polenta with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Broil, turning once, until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes per side.
5To serve: Arrange the polenta and tomato salad on a large serving platter; top with herbs.
To make ahead: Prepare through Step 4; refrigerate polenta and salad separately for up to 1 day. Serve salad at room temperature.