Have you ever dated someone from Europe? I hate to stereotype things here- but chivalry is not dead. The chap I’m dating is from Europe- Romania specifically- and knows how to treat a lady. There’s a fantastic interaction that happens when a man actually acts like a man and opens doors, helps around the house and protects a woman- we tend to act a bit more lady like. For me this looks like home cooked meals and dressing up a bit more than my trusty yoga pants and flowy tank tops.
Recently I had the novel ideal to cook him a classic Romanian dish. Everything was going great until I actually scoured Pinterest for a recipe that looked somewhat doable. The recipes all seemed foreign and complicated to me- stuffed cabbage, meat on a stick, cinnamon and walnut bread, flat breads and dips made of roasted eggplants. At one point I came upon a Romanian woman’s blog titled, “How to eat healthy with little to no cooking”, one of the first recipes was a roasted fish dish with steamed vegetables- last time I checked roasting and steaming can be fully considered cooking. These people are culinary wizards- holidays center around grand meals for lots of people, families can spend days cooking and preparing the dishes for one meal. At this point I felt a little bit intimidated by their beautiful recipes with unknown ingredients but I settled on a recipe that seemed simple enough- chicken with a tomato roux and polenta- Ostropel as they call it.
I spent the earlier part of the day perusing the grocery store for all the ingredients, fairly simple thankfully. The only item I wasn’t able to locate was the polenta in it’s raw form, purchasing a cooked version instead- I’ve since been informed cornmeal can be used.
In this posting I’ll highlight the polenta dish and you’re free to check out Romanian Ostropel on your own- there are quite a few recipes on Pinterest!
The polenta was fluffy, creamy and had the bright bold flavors of oven roasted tomatoes and salty, tangy feta. The presentation was lovely- I may roast the tomatoes even longer next time so they have a bit more of a char. It’d be great with other roasted veggies as well- mushrooms, peppers and onions would have all been beautiful additions.
This recipe has been modified from this recipe on Pinch of Yum!
- 3 cups cherry tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 cups spinach
- 1/2 cup fresh basil, chiffonade
- 3 cups water
- 1 log of prepared polenta or prepare polenta using cornmeal
- 4 ounces goat cheese
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Wash the tomatoes, place on a baking sheet, and pat dry. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Roast for 10 minutes, gently turn the tomatoes, and repeat until the tomatoes are browned, about 30 minutes. Turn the heat up to 450 at the end to get more browning action.
- Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large heavy pan. Add the garlic and saute gently until fragrant, avoid burning. When the garlic is smelling awesome, add the spinach and turn off the heat. You should be able to just keep stirring the spinach around for a minute and it will wilt and reduce in size. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel.
- In the same pan open the prepared polenta log- I purchased one with italian spices blended in. Add 1 tbsp of milk to thin polenta out- dairy or nondairy both work great. Stir over medium heat until it resembles a thick oatmeal.
- Empty the polenta into a large serving bowl- glass works great as to see the pretty layering of the ingredients. Next ladle the roasted tomatoes onto the polenta, then the crumbled feta and finally the chiffonade basil.
-Polenta can be made using cornmeal – follow the directions in this recipe.