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 baby eggplant
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.