I’m so excited to share the recipe for this polenta tart with garlicky white bean spread and roasted cherry tomatoes, which Steven and I gobbled up last night! For the record, Steven isn’t a great fan of tomatoes, so I wasn’t sure how it would go over, but it seems that roasting the cherry tomatoes was all it took to win him over. Roasted tomatoes are a favorite of mine, too–and this is my first time making them this summer.
We both loved the dense polenta crust in the recipe, the silky smooth white bean topping, and all of the summery flavors.
Anyone who has been reading my blog for a while knows that it took me a long time to warm up to garlic in my cooking. This is partly because my mother is not a fan of alliums, and I rarely ever had them growing up. They’ve remained a somewhat foreign flavor to me until the last few years, when more and more culinary exploration and education has helped me to embrace them! One of the easiest ways to love garlic in any recipe is to roast it, which brings out all of its natural sweetness and mellows its flavor somewhat. Roasted garlic is delicious in hummus and in other spreads. In this recipe, I’m pairing it with creamy white beans, lemon, and thyme.
The tart–which Steven called a pizza, and I think it could qualify as a non-traditional version of such–is a perfect option for a casual lunch or dinner or for cutting into thin slices and serving as an appetizer. It’s suitable for gluten free folks, and it’s a great canvas for other vegetable ideas. I think roasted red bell peppers or zucchini would be lovely, too.
To streamline the process for the recipe, I’d recommend making the white bean dip a day in advance. The cherry tomatoes and crust can both be made in advance, too — it’s really just a matter of your schedule and what you’d like to prep first. If you do make the polenta ahead of time, cover it tightly before storing in the fridge.
Polenta Tart with Garlicky White Bean Spread and Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
Yields: 4 -6 servings for a main course option; 8-10 servings for appetizer slices
For the Garlicky White Bean Spread:
- 1 head garlic top sliced off to expose the cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
- 2 cups cooked cannellini or Great White Northern beans or 1 can beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons lemon juice adjust to taste -- I tend to have a heavy hand with lemon
- 1 tablespoon tahini
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves or 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- Black pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup water
For the Polenta Crust:
- 1 cup polenta or medium-grind cornmeal
- 3 1/2 cups water or low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- Black pepper to taste
For the Roasted Cherry Tomatoes:
- 2 pints cherry tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic unpeeled
- 1/4 cup fresh rosemary leaves
To prepare the white bean dip, preheat your oven to 400F. Drizzle the olive oil over the garlic head. Wrap the garlic in aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet. Roast the garlic for 35-40 minutes, or until its all soft and golden. Place the white beans, lemon juice, tahini, salt, thyme, and pepper to taste in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the S blade. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of the garlic head, into the bean mixture (all of it!). Pulse the ingredients a few times to combine. With the motor of the processor running, drizzle in the water. Continue processing until the white bean spread is very smooth. Check the seasoning and adjust seasonings to taste.
Lower the oven to 375F and lightly oil or spray a 9" springform pan (alternately, you can use a 9" tart shell). Bring the broth or water for the polenta to boil in a medium pot. When the liquid boils, pour in the polenta or cornmeal in a thin stream, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Continue stirring the mixture frequently, until it starts to thicken and bubble (about 15-20 minutes, but it could be more or less). It'll spatter angrily, so watch your hands! When the mixture is very thick and pulling away from the edges of the pot, stir in the salt, nutritional yeast, and pepper. Pour the polenta into the pan or tart shell and allow it to rest for 15 minutes. Transfer it to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until it's golden brown on top and pulling away from the baking dish. Allow it to cool for 10-15 minutes.
While you wait for the polenta cooking liquid to boil, half the cherry tomatoes and toss them in the olive oil. Transfer them to a parchment or foil-lined baking sheet. Nestle the garlic cloves between the tomatoes. Sprinkle the tomatoes with a dash of salt and pepper, as well as the rosemary. You can transfer the tomatoes to the 375F oven at the same time as the polenta crust. Bake them for 30 minutes, or until they're caramelized and crisping at the edges.
When all of the components are ready, spread the polenta crust with about 1 heaping cup of the white bean spread (an inverted spatula makes this easy work). Arrange the tomatoes on top, transferring over some of the crispy rosemary leaves. Cut the tart into wedges, and serve. Tart leftovers will keep for up to three days in an airtight container in the fridge. Any leftover white bean spread will also keep for 3-4 days, and can be used as an alternative to hummus.
To serve, I’d pair the tart with a salad and a nice, summery soup. If you have a few leftover tomatoes after you make the tart, you can pile them into said salad or soup, as they’re too sweet and delicious to pass up.
I hope everyone is having a nice start to the week. I’ll be back soon with another summery dish!