Grilled polenta with roasted vegetables

IT’s a challenge sometimes to find recipes that are gluten-free. Polenta is a grain made from ground corn and is used a lot in northern Italian cooking. It is easily available here now and the instant variety couldn’t be easier to use. It can be made ahead and stored in the fridge where it will keep 3 or 4 days.

Take it out and pop it on a hot griddle where it takes on a delicious, crispy texture with a soft cheesy centre. Piled with delicious roasted autumn vegetables it makes for a gluten-free meal that appeals to everyone. It can also be made without cheese for a vegan variation.

Cheese flavoured polenta

1.8 litres water

1 teaspoon sea salt

220g instant polenta

150g strong cheese, fontina or raclette, grated

Bring the water to a rolling boil and add the salt.

Place the polenta on a sheet of greaseproof paper and fold it into a cone shape.

Pour the polenta in a steady stream stirring with a long wooden spoon in an anticlockwise direction. As the polenta dissolves and thickens keep stirring in the same direction to avoid it coagulating. It’s not unlike making porridge.

It’s ready in about 20 minutes when it leaves the sides of the pan. If using instant, it will take only 5 minutes.

Stir in the grated cheese until it melts.

Pour the polenta onto a flat plate and leave it to set.

When ready to cook cut into slices and rub with a little olive oil.

Place on a heated griddle and cook 5-10 minutes on each side until crispy outside and gooey inside.

Oven roasted vegetables

Courgettes, aubergines, red and yellow peppers

Carrots and beetroot

2 red onions

3 whole cloves garlic

Sea salt and black pepper

3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Balsamic vinegar

Sprigs fresh thyme and rosemary

2 fresh bay leaves

Pre-heat oven to 220C/Gas 7

Wash and peel the courgettes, aubergines and peppers cutting them into similar sized pieces, about 4 cm long.

Peel the carrots and beetroots and cut into pieces about half the size of the other vegetables.

Trim the onions. Cut into eighths lengthwise.

Leave the skins on the garlic cloves; bash them to break the skin.

Tip all the vegetables into a shallow baking tin.

Season well. Drizzle with a good amount of olive oil and, using your hands, toss all the vegetables in the oil to make sure they are well coated.

Add a splash of balsamic vinegar and tuck the fresh herbs under the vegetables.

Roast for 30-35 minutes until softened and browned.

Serve piled on top of the griddled polenta.