It seems whenever I turn on the news these days, the first story is about the frigidly cold weather, followed by advice on staying warm. When the wind chill factor dips below minus thirty, there is not much that can tempt me to leave the warmth of my house, even if the fridge is almost empty and the cupboards are nearly bare.
This recipe was born on one of those days, when I couldn't face going outside, let alone carrying grocery bags in the cold. I had a roll of polenta and a few canned goods in the cupboard, and a zucchini in the fridge—in other words, the makings for a warming, flavourful dinner.
Polenta is not something I cook with often, but when I do, I wonder why I don't use it more frequently. It's scrumptious with a savoury sauce, and so simple to prepare. This meal is gluten-free, vegan, and very filling and satisfying, not to mention quick to throw together and inexpensive. It's a perfect winter weeknight meal!
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Place tomatoes in a large saucepan, add baking soda, and stir. Mixture will foam up; when the foam subsides, add Italian seasoning, onion powder, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Stir in the chickpeas and cook over medium until hot, reduce heat, and simmer.
Meanwhile, toss zucchini slices in olive oil, and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder. Roast in the oven for 25 minutes.
Arrange slices of polenta on a separate baking sheet, and put into the oven during the last 10-15 minutes of the zucchini roasting. Remove from oven when polenta is heated through and golden and crispy on the outside.
Divide polenta slices among four plates, pour tomato and chickpea mixture over top. Add roasted zucchini, and garnish with black olives, if desired.
(Yield: 4 large servings)