Makes 10 servings Difficulty
For Polenta Squares: 3 cups water 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 cup polenta
For Eggplant Caponata: 1 medium red bell pepper 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 1 small eggplant, peeled and cubed Salt and freshly ground black pepper 1 small diced onion 2 garlic cloves, minced 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced 1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar Italian parsley for garnish
In a medium saucepan bring 3 cups of water and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil. Add polenta in a steady stream, stirring constantly. Continue to stir polenta until thickened - polenta should leave the sides of the pan as you stir, about 8-10 minutes.
Spread polenta onto a baking sheet to a thickness of 1/4-inch. Let cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm. Cut into small squares and remove from pan. Set aside.
Place bell pepper on a jelly roll pan lined with aluminum foil. Place pepper directly under broiler element. Broil until blackened on all sides, turning occasionally so all sides are evenly roasted. Remove pepper from broiler and place in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let steam for 10 minutes. Peel off blackened skin and remove core, seeds and stem. Cut pepper into 1/2-inch dice. Set aside.
Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add eggplant; cook 6 minutes or until browned, stirring frequently. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Remove eggplant from pan and set aside on a plate.
Add 2 teaspoons of oil to pan. Add onion; sauté for 3 minutes or until onion begins to brown. Add garlic, thyme, and anchovy paste; sauté for 2 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar; cook for 30 seconds. Add eggplant and reserved roasted red peppers; stir well. Adjust seasonings to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Remove from heat.
Meanwhile, place polenta squares on a clean jelly roll pan. Place under broiler. Broil for 10 minutes total, turning squares halfway through.
Transfer squares to a platter and top with caponata mixture. Garnish with fresh parsley. Serve.