Panfried polenta topped with fresh tomato sauce, herbs + pine nuts (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

Using store-bought precooked polenta in a log, all you need to do is slice and panfry (or broil oil-tossed slices) until crispy. The fresh tomato sauce comes together in no time and is poured over when ready to serve. This dish is tasty as is, but it is also versatile, taking on a different flavor profile depending on which additional optional topping you choose. (Inspired by a recipe by Naturally Ella)

Ingredients
  • packaged precooked polenta log
  • avocado oil, coconut oil, or other high-temperature oil
  • fresh basil leaves
  • fresh parsley
  • mixed fresh regular, grape, and cherry tomatoes
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil
  • red pepper flakes (optional)
  • toasted or raw pine nuts
  • toppings (optional): hummus, lemon juice, avocado, olive tapenade, salsa verde, harissa, Sriracha, oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, pesto, yogurt, cheese
Method
  1. Line a plate with paper towels.
  2. Thinly slice the polenta, about 1/4 to 3/8 inch thick.
  3. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the avocado oil. Carefully add the polenta slices (watch out for the oil spattering). Panfry, undisturbed—very important or the polenta slices will turn to mush—until the oil no longer bubbles around the slices (indicating that the liquid in the slices has evaporated) and lifting a crispy slice with a spatula is easy, 6 to 8 minutes. Flip and repeat on the other side until both sides are crispy. Place the slices on the paper towels to drain.
  4. Meanwhile, coarsely chop the herbs. Cut the regular tomatoes into eighths and halve the grape and cherry tomatoes.
  5. In the same frying pan over medium heat, add the tomatoes with a sprinkle of salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Stir to scrape up the browned bits from the pan bottom. When the tomatoes release their juices, stir in some red pepper flakes, the chopped herbs, and a few grindings of black pepper.
  6. Arrange the polenta slices on a serving platter in a single layer. Pour the tomato-herb sauce evenly over the polenta, top with pine nuts, and serve, allowing each person to choose from the optional additional toppings.
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