Recipe: Melissa Clark's Fresh Corn Polenta with Roasted Eggplant Ratatouille and Ricotta

Serves 2 as a main dish, 4 as a side

1 1/2 pounds Italian eggplant (about 4), cut into 1-inch chunks

1 small zucchini, cut into 1-inch chunks

1 small red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch chunks

2 large rosemary branches

1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt, for seasoning

Freshly ground black pepper, for seasoning

1 pint cherry tomatoes

2 garlic cloves, unpeeled

Fresh lemon juice, as needed (optional)

 

For the Polenta:

1 bay leaf

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup polenta or coarse cornmeal (see What Else?)

1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (from 2 small ears)

 

Fresh ricotta, for serving

Fresh torn basil leaves, for serving (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 400° F.

2. In a large bowl, toss the eggplant, zucchini, pepper, and 1 rosemary branch with 3 1/2 tablespoons oil; season generously with salt and pepper. Spread the vegetables on a large baking sheet.

3. In a small bowl, toss the tomatoes, garlic, and remaining rosemary branch with 1/2 tablespoon oil; season with salt and pepper. Spread the mixture on a small baking sheet.

4. Transfer both baking sheets to the oven. Roast, stirring vegetables occasionally, until they are tender and caramelized, about 25 minutes for the tomatoes and garlic; 30 to 35 minutes for the eggplant, zucchini, and peppers.

5. Let the vegetables cool for a few minutes. Slip the garlic from their skins and place the cloves in a small bowl. Add a pinch of salt and mash to a paste; whisk in the remaining 1 teaspoon oil. In a bowl, combine the garlic oil with the tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, and peppers. Taste and add more salt and a few drop of lemon juice if it needs it.

6. Make the polenta: In a medium saucepan, bring 3 cups water, the bay leaf, and salt to a boil. Slowly whisk in the polenta; simmer it, stirring, until it is thick and almost tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the corn and simmer 5 minutes more.

6. Spoon the polenta onto individual serving plates. Top with roasted vegetables and a dollop of ricotta and basil if you like.