There are few more masochistic things about me than my desire to do most things The Hard Way. If there’s an easy way out… I’m probably not going to take it. There’s definitely some flawed thinking here, though I’m not sure exactly why it happens. Maybe I don’t like to feel lazy? Maybe I like to feel put-upon? I don’t know. It’s probably not good.
Sometimes, even I have to admit that the easy way out is totally awesome.
Like prepared polenta.
And canned beans.
And prepared sun-dried tomatoes.
And organic kale… in a bag.
And getting all those things at a single store.
Yes, I practically live at Trader Joe’s these days. Other than Giant, it’s the nearest grocery store, and it has a good selection of vegan and organic products. Do I miss my Madison co-op and feel horribly guilty for buying non-local bagged kale? Yep. Am I willing to drive to the nearest ridiculously busy Whole Foods and spend absurd amounts of money instead? Nope.
So yeah, we have a lot of TJ’s products in our pantry. Last night, I put a bunch of them together to make an easy dinner with a surprisingly gourmet feel. Sun-dried tomatoes add a pleasant chewy counterpoint to the crunchy kale and soft polenta, and the puree ties everything together.
This is a lazy meal that doesn’t taste lazy. Whizzing up the puree was the hardest part.
Polenta with Kale, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, and White Bean Puree
For the puree:
- 1 can (15 oz) Great Northern beans (or any soft white bean)
- Scant 2/3 cup vegetable broth or water
- 1 T olive oil
- 3/4 t dried thyme
- 1/2 t garlic powder (I would’ve used fresh garlic, but we were out!)
- Salt, freshly ground black pepper, and paprika to taste
- A few large handfuls chopped Tuscan kale
- 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes (the kind that’s packed in oil)
- Half a tube of prepared polenta, cut into rounds and then sliced into half-moons.
Combine all puree ingredients in a food processor and process until you have a smooth puree. Taste for seasonings and adjust to your preference. Transfer to a small pot and heat on medium-low while preparing the rest of the meal.
In a large non-stick pan, heat a small amount of olive oil on medium. Add the kale and sun-dried tomatoes to the pan and cook for three to four minutes. You can add some of the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes for added deliciousness. (Minced garlic would be yummy as well, but we were out.) After the kale cooks down and shrinks a bit, add the polenta to the pan. It will be crowded, but you can make room! Cook for another five to seven minutes, flipping the polenta once, until the polenta has a bit of a golden crust.
Turn off the heat and serve: make a layer of kale and tomatoes and top with the polenta. Ladle on a healthy scoop of puree and serve!
What’s your favorite easy “gourmet” dinner? Which Trader Joe’s products do you love?