My recipe is called "Borlotto beans in Tomato sauce with griddled Polenta". It is a really easy dish, because most of the preparation can be done in advance, with just a few minutes' worth of work at the end.
I soaked the beans (a mixture of types, mostly borlotti) in water overnight and cooked them in advance - 10 minutes boiling hard, then about 30 minutes at a simmer, or until tender (you might need to cook the beans a bit longer than this if they are not so fresh). After cooking, they looked like this (not yet very appetising...)
I also made my tomato sauce some hours in advance, because I wanted it to have some time for all the flavours to infuse. This is how I did it: I made a "sofrito" with diced onion, carrot and celeriac, cooking it in a little vegetable oil over a low heat for approx 15 minutes until the veg were soft. I then added a tin of chopped tomatoes, a large pinch of chilli flakes, some finely chopped Rosemary (from the garden), a little water and some salt and pepper.
Rosemary leaves can be quite tough, so when using them in a dish like this, chop them very finely. Here you can see the ideal tool for the task - the hachoire or mezzaluna. Ours has a wooden chopping board that is dished in the centre like a saucer.
I brought the sauce mixture up to the boil and then turned the heat down to a simmer. I cooked the sauce slowly for about an hour, adding a little more water to keep the consistency right. When it was finished it was thick and gloopy and looked like this:
I then made some "hard" polenta. A couple of weeks ago I made some soft polenta, using the approved cooking method, and I found that it went lumpy, so this time I did a bit of experimenting: I slaked about 120g of the polenta flour with cold water, rather than pouring the polenta into boiling water. By "slaking" I mean mixing the polenta with a small quantity of water to make a stiff paste. I then put the polenta onto a low heat and gradually heated it to boiling point, adding more (boiling) water as required. I found this method to work better. The sort of polenta I used only needs 4 or 5 minutes cooking. Towards the end of the cooking time I added about 25g of butter and 25g of grated Parmesan cheese. At this stage, the polenta would have been just right for soft polenta, but I poured mine into a greased dish and left it to cool. At this stage it was bright yellow and looked like thick custard!
When the polenta was cool, I tipped it out of the dish onto some clingfilm. The colour on the underside was a bit more muted and it looked just like a slab of mass-produced Cheddar cheese.
I was able to slice the polenta and set it aside in the fridge ready to be griddled later on.
At this stage it looked like a sliced Madeira cake...
Half an hour or so before Dinner time I put the beans and tomato sauce into a pan and heated them gently to warm them through. No further cooking is really necessary at this stage. Meanwhile, the griddle was heating up for the polenta. I cooked three slices of polenta for each of us, turning them a couple of times to ensure even cooking.
When it was nicely browned I placed the polenta onto serving plates and ladled the bean and sauce mixture over the top, and garnished the dish with some chopped parsley. I served it with a tomato-and-olive salad, some nice bread, and a bottle of robust red wine.
Here's the finished article...
I felt that the polenta done "my way" was a great success. It was smooth and much lighter than the commercial stuff you can buy in the shops.
I nearly forgot to point out that this is a vegetarian meal. I am not a vegetarian myself, but there are times when meat seems superfluous!