[Revisiting] Fennel-Leek Tomato Sauce with Garbanzo Beans over Polenta with Roasted Cauliflower

December 5, 2011 § 6 Comments

Fennel-Leek Tomato Sauce with Garbanzo Beans over Polenta Fritters with Roasted Cauliflower

Here is my second post for the Dark Days Challenge. After last week, I was more aware of the challenge’s obstacles and prepared my farmer’s market trip accordingly. I checked out the availability of my local market the day before and created a list of what I needed.

Roy's Calais Flint Cornmeal from Ayers Creek Farm (Gaston, OR)

This week I learned a bit more about a few products that I assumed were more local than they are. I looked for a local brand of canned tomatoes and was happy to find out that Muir Glen fell into the “home-grown” category, the brand I buy anyway because they seem to have a very consistent product that doesn’t contain seeds (like some other brands and most generic). After stocking up on canned tomatoes, I checked out Muir Glen’s website and learned that the products are coming out of Washington but the tomatoes are sourced from California’s San Joaquin Valley. Not as local as I thought, but I suppose it makes more sense for a company to source their products from there. This is something I can’t do much about this year, but I am hoping to change this next year by canning the majority of the tomatoes I would need for the following year at the end of the season. I also assumed that the flours from Bob’s Red Mill would be local because it is a local company, but it turns out that their products are sourced from all over the country and Canada. I was able to get cornmeal from the farmer’s market and I have seen flours and meals from other vendors.

Fennel-Leek Tomato Sauce with Garbanzo Beans over Polenta Fritters with Roasted Cauliflower

This is a slightly updated version of a sauced polenta with cauliflower I made last year. This time around, I use fennel in the sauce which is very subtle but adds complexity. I also used a different technique for the cauliflower which creates very crispy cauliflower to contrast with generally soft textures of the dish. I almost added parmesan to the polenta, but then remembered that what I had on hand wasn’t domestic. Then I ended up absent-mindedly grating the incredibly not local parmesan just before photographing, which is obviously delicious but not necessary.

1 year ago, today: Vegetable Soup with Warm Spices, Beans and Quinoa

Fennel-Leek Tomato Sauce with Garbanzo Beans over Polenta with Roasted Cauliflower:

One note on the polenta: this particular proportion of polenta allow for you to use the no-stir method by covering it and stirring every ten minutes or so. This method leads to a very porridge-like consistency. You can certainly use whatever recipe for polenta you prefer or serve the sauce over baked or fried polenta.

Sauce originally adapted from Our Home Works
Cauliflower adapted from 101 Cookbooks’ Roasted Cauliflower Popcorn
– 2 cup dried garbanzo beans, soaked and cooked
– 7 cups water, salted
– 1 2/3 cups coarse cornmeal (see note for polenta above)
– 1 large fennel bulb, 1/4″ dice
– 1 leek, thinly sliced
– 4+2 cloves garlic, separated and minced
– pinch red pepper flakes
– 1 tbsp dried oregano
– 1 42.5 oz canned tomatoes (1 28 oz can crushed, 1 14.5 oz can diced)
– 4 oz day-old bread
– 2 heads cauliflower (assorted colors if available)
– 3 padron peppers, minced
– oil, salt and pepper

In a heavy bottomed pot, saute fennel and leek in oil until soft. Add garlic, red pepper flakes and marjoram and saute until aromatic, 30 seconds to a minute. Add crushed tomatoes and bring to a boil, down to a simmer for 1-2 hours, covered and stirring frequently. Stir cooked garbanzo beans into the sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Puree 8 cups of the sauce in a blender and return to pot with un-pureed sauce to simmer at a very low heat while the other components are cooked.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Run bread through a food processor to create coarse crumbs. Cut cauliflower into florets and place in a mixing bowl. Add oil to coat and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes. Add garlic, peppers and breadcrumbs to the residual oil in the bowl (add a bit of oil if there isn’t any residual oil).

Bring the salted water to a boil and slowly add cornmeal while stirring continuously and reduce to a simmer. Stir frequently until the grits are fully cooked. With this amount of water you can reduce the heat to the lowest possible temperature and cover it, stirring every 10 minutes. Cooking it uncovered while stirring constantly will create a thicker polenta, while cooking it covered will be thinner and take longer to cook. Substitute your own preferred recipe for polenta if desired.

Remove cauliflower from after the 15-20 minutes and raise oven temperature to 425 degrees F. Coat cauliflower with breadcrumbs, garlic and peppers. Return to oven for 10 more minutes.

Serve sauce over polenta squares with roasted cauliflower on top.

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§ 6 Responses to [Revisiting] Fennel-Leek Tomato Sauce with Garbanzo Beans over Polenta with Roasted Cauliflower

  • This is a great looking dish. It's the middle of summer here right now, so I can't get enough of salads just now, but I will definitely be trying this when the cooler days return.Sue 🙂

  • Wow this looks like a great feast!Can i ask what are padron peppers? Never heard of them before.

  • Thanks for stopping by my blog. I stopped by to see what you were up to. What a beautiful dish. That is great you have found a few more local sources. Sincerely, Emily

  • nico. says:

    Marine: Padron peppers are a small mild chili, looking similar to a jalapeno. I chose to use them for this dish because hot peppers aren't available locally this late in the year, but you could substitute a jalapeno or serrano pepper. Padron peppers have a really nice, smoky flavor and you can occasionally find one that has a surprising amount of heat.

  • Whirliegig says:

    Fantastic footwork on the sourcing of your produce! This year I didn't get to can tomatoes either, but I do my best to purchase those grown and canned in the states. I only wish that there were US companies that package their tomatoes in cartons, like Pomi, instead of cans.

  • cassie says:

    looks great! i purchased some of that lovely cauliflower from happy harvest farms as well. i canned tomatoes for the first time this year. i'm already half way through them. i'm hoping to grow a bunch for canning next year. oh, and thanks for the mention!

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