Monday, November 9, 2009

Balsamic Chicken with Eggplant and Roasted Vegetables over Polenta

As the local growing season ends, I’m back to getting my veggies at the supermarket. One way to make supermarket produce shine is roasting, which concentrates the flavors and brings out the sweetness. This recipe also uses canned roasted peppers, sundried tomatoes and capers – essential pantry items for the winter. This recipe has a few make-ahead steps, but is well worth the effort. The chicken is optional, but as always, dark meat is best if you plan to freeze and reheat.


  • 1 large eggplant

  • 1 red onion

  • 6 portabella mushrooms

  • 1/2 cup sliced sundried tomatoes, soaked in hot water until soft and drained

  • 2 cans roasted red peppers

  • 1 bulb garlic (preferably North American)

  • 1 lbs chicken thighs, sliced

  • 2 tbsp capers

  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes

  • 1 tbsp. dried Italian herb mixture (fresh works too, but it’s winter)

  • Parmesan cheese – to taste

  • 1 cup balsamic vinaigrette (see below)

  • 1 6x9 dish of polenta (see below)

  1. Marinate chicken strips in half the balsamic vinaigrette for one hour or overnight.

  2. Peel eggplant and slice into quarters and the slice into ½ inch pieces.

  3. Lightly salt eggplant and layer on paper towels for 1 hour or overnight (rinse and pat dry

  4. Slice onion in half and then into slices

  5. Rinse the mushrooms and cut out the black gills and discard.

  6. Slice the mushrooms into bite sized pieces. If stems were included, chop off the duty end and discard, and slice the stem into thin pieces.

  7. Toss each vegetable separately in some olive oil, herbs and pepper flakes and put on roasting pans (keep veggies separate in case their cooking times are different.
    Place veggies, as well as whole bulb of garlic, in a 450 degree oven until browned but not burned. 20-30 minutes on average.

  8. Open cans of peppers. Drain the first can and and slice into bite sized pieces, set aside. Run the other can, liquid and all, in a blender until smooth.

  9. Pat dry the marinated chicken and sauté under high heat.

  10. Add all the veggies

  11. Squeeze roasted garlic cloves into mixture.

  12. Add a dash of the vinaigrette, the pureed peppers, and the capers

  13. Serve over warmed polenta squares with grated cheese. Fresh parsley might be nice too.

For the balsamic vinaigrette: 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar, 2/3 cup olive oil, 1 tsp prepared mustard, 2 tbsp lemon juice, salt and Tabasco to taste. Put it all in a blender and blend until opaque and emulsified..

For the polenta: Bring two cups water/stock to a boil, lower heat to simmer, whisk in 1 c cup cornmeal and stir slowly for 30 minutes, until mixture pulls away from pan (add water if it gets too thick to stir). Pour into greased casserole, cool, and cut into squares.

Frugal Factor: This makes six servings. $2 for the eggplant, $4 for the mushroom, $1 for the onion, $4 for the chicken, $1 for everything else. That’s $2/serving. A little high – darn those mushrooms.

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