Polenta Towers

Polenta Towers
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Robert Dekeersgieter, Spirit of the Ethan Allen III, Burlington, Vermont

4 cups water
2 cups polenta (medium or coarse grain)
1 teaspoon basil
1/8 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
Oil for cookie sheet
2 plum tomatoes
1 zucchini
1 baby eggplant
Fresh basil
4 whole olives

Slice all vegetables in about 1/4-inch thickness and sauté al dente, except the tomatoes, in oil with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

In a saucepan, heat the water and salt over medium-high heat.  Bring to a simmer, but don't let it boil. 

Slowly whisk the polenta into the simmering water.  Whisk constantly until it begins to thicken, about 3 minutes.

Add the basil, cheese, and olive oil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring regularly, until it is very thick, approximately 8 minutes. 

Oil a 9x5-inch bread pan.  Fill the pan with the polenta.  Smooth the polenta out evenly.  Cover the pan and refrigerate overnight. 

Remove from the refrigerator and flip over onto a cutting board.  The polenta should slide out of the pan. 

Punch out polenta circles with a small glass.  Make layers with the polenta and the cooled vegetables to make a tower, making sure the eggplant is the top vegetable layer, and skewer to hold together, topped with an olive.

Place on a buttered cookie sheet and bake for approximately 10 minutes, or until the edges start to turn gold-brown.

Remove skewer before serving.

Serves 4.