Recipe courtesy of Susan Spicer

Vegetable Gratin with Polenta and Smoked Tomato Vinaigrette

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  • Total: 2 hr 30 min
  • Prep: 2 hr
  • Cook: 30 min
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings
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1 cup milk

2 to 2 1/2 cups water

1 cup polenta or stone-ground cornmeal

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter

Optional: chopped fresh herbs, such as basil, rosemary, or sage


2 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, seeded, and cut into strips

1 cup whole, peeled garlic cloves, roasted in 1/4 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup white wine

1 large eggplant (about 2 cups), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice and browned in olive oil

1/2 pound domestic or wild mushrooms, sliced and sauteed

2 cans artichokes, drained, sliced, and sauteed (or use fresh artichokes)

2 zucchini, sliced lengthwise into 1/8-inch thick ribbons and wilted in olive oil

1 bag or bunch fresh spinach, washed, stemmed, and wilted

1 cup of Parmesan or Fontina cheese


1 cup white wine

2 tablespoons finely chopped onion or shallots

1/4 cup red or white wine vinegar

2 medium tomatoes (smoked for 10 to 15 minutes on a home smoker)

1/2 cup each pure and extra virgin olive oil


Special equipment:
home smoker
  1. For the polenta: Brush an 8-inch square baking pan with olive oil or butter. In a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed pot bring 1 cup milk and 2 cups water to a boil, then sprinkle in the cornmeal whisking constantly. Keep whisking or stirring until mixture boils and thickens, then reduce heat and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1/2 cup of water if polenta gets too thick. Stir in the salt, softened butter, and herbs, then pour into baking pan and try to smooth into an even layer about 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick. Let cool. For the vegetables: Alternate layers of vegetables on top of polenta, pressing down firmly on each layer, and ending with red peppers and cheese. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Cut into squares and serve with smoked tomato vinaigrette. 
  2. For the Smoked Tomato Vinaigrette: Place wine, shallots, and vinegar in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until liquid is reduced to 1/2 cup. Core and quarter the tomatoes. Puree in blender, then strain puree into the pot. Bring to a boil and simmer until about 1/2 cup of liquid remains. Whisk in olive oils and season with salt and pepper.