Balsamic Eggplant with Rosemary Polenta and Dill Sauce
I mentioned before that when Joe and I were in Austria for our honeymoon I was blown away by all the vegetarian restaurants and options available. I had accepted that this trip would be filled with cheese sandwiches, potatoes, and garlic soup and was okay with that…more than okay with that in the case of the garlic soup. However we were able to find plenty of places offering us an Austrian take on vegetarian food. Our lunch at Nice Rice was one such occurrence, and I was sold the moment I saw polenta listed on the menu. One of my earliest food memories is of my Grandma making her cabbage and polenta, stirring and stirring the polenta to make sure it was perfectly creamy. There was a large polenta-free gap during my college years, until I finally had my own kitchen and set out to recreate this delicious side dish. While I have experimented with garlic polenta and cheesy polenta, I hadn’t explored much in the way of adding herbs. After this amazing lunch in Austria I can promise that will no longer be the case.
This recipe does have a fair amount of components, but the dill sauce can be made ahead of time as can the salad and salad dressing. I also used my mandolin in order to speed up the eggplant cutting process tho there is no easy/quick way to make the polenta short of buying pre-made. I prefer to use Indian Head brand for my polenta, their old fashioned corn meal has always come out perfectly for me. The only change I make to their instructions is subbing in 1/2 cup of milk for some of the water in order to keep it more like Grandma use to make.
1/2 cup plan Greek Yogurt
2 tbsp fresh dill
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup milk
1 cup old-fashioned corn meal
2 cups boiling water
2 tbsp fresh rosemary
3 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup onion, diced
2 lbs eggplant, washed and sliced lengthwise 1/4 in (prep this before starting the polenta)
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 cup goat cheese
- Blend the greek yogurt and dill until fully mixed. Set aside in fridge (can be done day in advance)
- In a large sauce pan whisk the corn meal with the cold water and milk over medium heat. Once well mixed slowly add the boiling water and rosemary, continuing to whisk the mixture as you add. Bring to a quick boil and then turn heat down to a low simmer. Cook for 20-25minutes, stirring as frequently as possible.
- In a large saute pan heat the olive oil, garlic, and onion over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the eggplant and cook for an additional 10minutes before adding the tomatoes, balsamic, and white wine vinegar. Stir well to make sure eggplant is fully coated in the oil/vinegar mixture. Cook for an additional 7-10 minutes or until the eggplant is soft.
- To Serve: Spoon about 1/3 cup of polenta on the bottom of half of a bowl. On the other side place fresh greens (spinach arugula mix in my case). Top the polenta with about 1 tbsp of the goat cheese before topping with the eggplant mixture. Spoon the dill yogurt sauce on top of the eggplant and serve the salad with balsamic vinaigrette.
Cut the vegetables before starting the polenta, unless you have an extra hand in the kitchen to help with stirring.
I serve this with the salad in the same bowl in order to keep it as close to the original meal as possible. Sure enough as soon as I had the first bite I was flashing back to Vienna and remembering once again how amazing our honeymoon was.