I made dinner recently for a fairly particular eater whom I’d never cooked for before- let’s call him The Writer. It seems he “wants” to be open to new foods, but I’m not really sure how deep that runs. No matter. I wanted to make something tasty, simple and that didn’t take a ton of effort. Polenta is a good standby for me because most people love it, it’s easy and it’s cheap. And the best part is that anything can go on top of it.
It’s the end of tomato season here in Texas: the tomatoes are no longer super sweet but they’re still plentiful. Roasted cherry tomatoes tends to be a good solution here. After running ideas past my sister, I opted to make a simple topping rather than a sauce and I was rather pleased with the way this turned out. I’ve done other variations of this, but in this version the flavors each stood out and there weren’t any ingredients hiding in a sauce.
I know the meal was appreciated, but I’m pretty sure since it was made in his kitchen and didn’t involve a plastic cover or a microwave, anything would be pretty exciting. I’ll post the ice cream soon enough: that may have been the best part of the meal.
Roasted Cherry Tomato and Sausage
Sauce for 2 cups uncooked polenta
2 pints cherry tomatoes
5 cloves garlic, whole
2 Tablespoons olive oil
3 slices pancetta
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 medium shallots, chopped
2 mild Italian sausages (about 3/4 pounds)
chili flakes, optional
handful of parsley, chopped
grated parmesan cheese or pecorino
Preheat the oven to 400. Place whole cherry tomatoes in a pyrex dish, toss with 2 Tablespoons olive oil, the whole garlic cloves and a hefty pinch of salt. Roast in the oven until tomatoes pop and brown slightly: about 30 minutes. Turn the heat to broil for the last 5 minutes.
While the tomatoes are roasting, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Chop the pancetta into cubes and saute until browned. Add the chopped garlic and shallots and saute over low-medium heat until completely soft. Add a pinch of chili flakes if using. Remove the casing from the sausage (or buy bulk) and cook over medium heat until completely done.
When the tomatoes are done, toss into the sausage mixture. Do not mix much: it’s best to leave the tomatoes whole and not mash them around. Add salt and pepper to taste. Top with pecorino and some parsley. Serve hot over polenta, pasta, or eat with bread.