Millet Polenta With Tomato Sauce, Eggplant and Chickpeas
Millet polenta is as comforting as it gets. In season you can use fresh tomatoes in the topping, but canned will work just fine. You could also make this dish with cornmeal polenta.
- Serves: 6 persons
- 1pound eggplant
- 2tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (plus additional for oiling the foil)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1cup millet
- 4cups water or vegetable stock
- 1tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1can (28-ounce) tomatoes, with juice
- 2garlic cloves, minced
- 1to 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (to taste), plus additional for garnish
- Pinch of sugar
- Salt to taste
- 1can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- Optional: 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Step 1Roast the eggplant. Cut it into 3/4-inch cubes and toss with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and brush the foil with olive oil. Lay the eggplant on the foil in a single layer. Roast in the hot oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until the cubes are soft when pierced with a knife and browned in spots. They’ll look dry on the surface but when you pierce them with a knife you should be able to see that the flesh is soft. Remove from the oven and carefully fold the foil up over the eggplant slices (be careful not to burn yourself!). Crimp the edges of the foil so that the eggplant is hermetically sealed in a big foil packet, and allow the eggplant to steam for another 15 to 20 minutes. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees.
Step 2Begin the polenta. Heat a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and add the millet. Toast, stirring or shaking the pan, until the grains begin to pop and smell sort of like popcorn. Add the water or stock and salt (up to 1 teaspoon, to taste). Transfer the pan to the hot oven. After 25 minutes give the millet a stir and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes. There should still be some liquid in the pan. Stir in the butter and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the millet is thick and no more water or stock is visible in the pan.
Step 3While the millet is in the oven make the tomato sauce. Pulse the tomatoes in a food processor so that you have a nice puréed texture. Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a wide nonstick skillet or saucepan and add the garlic and thyme. As soon as it begins to smell fragrant (1/2 to 1 minute), add the tomatoes, sugar, eggplant, and salt, stir and turn up the heat. When the tomatoes begin to bubble, turn the heat to medium-low and cook, partially covered and stirring often, until thick and fragrant, about 20 minutes. Stir in the chickpeas and heat through. Remove from the heat, taste and adjust seasonings.
Step 4When the polenta is done, remove it from the oven and if desired, stir in the Parmesan. Spoon onto plates or wide bowls, make a depression in the middle with the back of your spoon and top with the tomato, eggplant and chickpeas mixture. Garnish with more fresh thyme and Parmesan, and a drizzle of olive oil if desired, and serve.