The last months of the year mean combining summer’s friends that are almost out of season with new cool-weather buddies. What could be better than soft, warm polenta prepared with the savoriness of leeks and shallots and the sweetness of cherry tomatoes, butternut squash, and peppers? You can cook the butternut squash in the oven, toaster oven, or microwave. To cook the squash in the microwave: Pierce it two or three times, put it whole and uncovered in a microwave-safe dish, and microwave for 3 or 4 minutes. Turn it over, microwave again 1 to 2 minutes at a time until the squash is shiny and completely soft; let cool before cutting in half and scooping out the seeds.
- cooked butternut squash
- extra-virgin olive oil or ghee
- leeks, sliced
- shallots, diced
- sweet peppers, chopped
- hot chiles, chopped
- whole cherry tomatoes or chopped regular tomatoes
- dried or fresh rosemary leaves
- coarse polenta
- vegetable broth or water
- pitted green olives (optional)
- Scoop the flesh from the cooked butternut squash, discarding (or composting) the seeds and skin.
- Heat the oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the leeks, shallots, sweet peppers, and chiles. Cook, covered, until starting to soften. Add tomatoes and squash flesh; season with salt and rosemary. Cook, covered, for a few minutes, then stir the softened tomatoes into the mixture.
- Refer to the polenta package for ratio of polenta to liquid (use 1:4 if you purchased polenta in bulk). Add measured broth to pot and bring to a boil. Gradually add polenta while stirring constantly. Return to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, stirring every 5 minutes. Add more broth as needed so the polenta doesn’t burn. Cook until the polenta is soft and thick (no hard bits). Add a few grinds of black pepper and pitted green olives or salt. Add more oil or ghee to the pot or to each bowl and serve.