Summer is coming and we spend a lot more time outside again, heading straight to the park after school and often staying a little longer than we should, which means snacks are essential. While there is of course nothing wrong with oatcakes, carrot sticks, apple slices and similar healthy snacks, I often feel that with the amount of running the boys do they need something a little more substantial. This Polenta loaf is easy to prepare and makes great finger food, especially if eaten cold (it’s much firmer once cold). Polenta is a great source of complex carbohydrates (meaning they break down slowly and don’t cause sugar spikes) and the tomato sauce adds plenty of vitamins and antioxidants. It’s full of flavour and makes a perfect power snack, addition to a pack lunch or part of a picnic spread.
What you need:
3tbsp olive oil
½ onion – finely chopped
3 garlic cloves – finely chopped
3tbsp fresh oregano – leaves peeled off the stalks and roughly chopped (alternatively use 1-2tbsp dried oregano)
4tbsp black olives – I used ready sliced and pitted
400ml tomato passata – unseasoned
100g instant polenta
10 cherry tomatoes – bigger ones halved
Salt and black pepper to taste
How you do it:
In a non-stick frying pan heat up your olive oil, then add the onions and fry for a few minutes until translucent.
Turn down the heat, add garlic, oregano and olives and fry for another few minutes stirring regularly to prevent the garlic from burning.
Pour in passata and water and bring everything to the boil.
Reduce the heat again and gently pour in the polenta (stir the whole time to avoid getting lumps using a non- scratch whisk if you have one or a wooden spoon).
Instant polenta will cook very quickly, so this should only take 2-3 minutes.
Turn off the hob, fold in the cherry tomatoes and season to taste.
Pour/ spoon the tomato polenta into a bread tin and leave to cool (it can take a little while, so put it in the fridge or even the freezer if you’re in a rush as it can only be cut hassle-free once it’s completely cold).
Tip the polenta loaf onto a chopping board and gently cut it into slices using your sharpest knife (I used my breadknife) to make sure you cut through the cherry tomatoes ok.
Using the same frying pan fry your polenta slices for about 3mins on each side (low-medium heat), adding a little more oil if necessary.