Vegetable Polenta Gratin with Manchego

Veg Polenta Gratin (01) by MeetaK

Just like asparagus epitomizes Spring in terms of food, for me the pumpkin portrays the perfect Fall vegetable.

Our Farmer's Market looks just as colorful as it did back earlier this year, offering a wonderful variety of delicious fresh vegetables available throughout Fall.


Another great new stall at our Farmer's Market is a cheese stall, offering an interesting variety of cheeses from all over Europe. The cheeses sold here come from organic farmers and believe me this is going to be a stall where I'll be leaving loads of money behind, I already know that!

We really love cheese - even Soeren has developed a wonderful palate for sharp Brie, Camemberts and other such delicacies. There are times when our dinner will consist of two or three different breads with a platter of cheeses and a large bunch of grapes. Each one of us gets a knife and a wooden board and we literally hoard the cheese and fresh bread down, gulping a few juicy grapes for the sweet contrast.

I also enjoy experimenting with cheeses in my cooking. Making a tart or pasta dish with a Gruyère will taste entirely different the next time with, say a Pecorino or an Appenzellar.

This weekend I decided on using a wonderfully aromatic Manchego from Spain, which had aged for about 4 months.

Veg Polenta Gratin (02) by MeetaK



Manchego Cheese

Manchego is probably Spain's most famous cheese. Produced in La Mancha, this cheese is made only from the whole milk of Manchega sheep. The rich, semi-firm product is aged in natural caves for a minimum of 3 - 6 months. It is a semi-firm cheese with a rich golden color. It comes in a 10 inch diameter wheel, 5 inches thick with a herringbone design on the rind.

Flavorwise, the Manchego ranges from mild to sharp, depending on how long it is aged. Manchego is available in three different states of maturity: Fresh (fresco), 3-6 months old (curado), or matured for one year (viejo).

The taste of the Manchego cheese is very distinctive, slightly salty but not too strong. It is creamy with a slight piquancy, and with the characteristic aftertaste of sheep’s milk.

I find Manchego a fantastic cheese to simply nibble on as it is, but it is also perfect for gratins and bakes. The piquant flavor adds a kick to the dish. My own dish using fresh vegetables like pumpkin, chanterelle mushrooms, tomatoes and zucchini, combined with a nutty polenta, was sensational with the distinctive aroma this cheese offers.

You will find more detailed information about the Manchego cheese, it's heritage and nutrition facts on the official Manchego cheese website.




Ingredients
Printable version here.

Veg Polenta Gratin (05) by MeetaK


1.2 kg mixed vegetables - I used:
Hokkaido pumpkin - peeled and sliced
chanterelle mushrooms - washed and larger ones cut in half
zucchini - sliced
red bell peppers - cut in strips
2-3 garlic cloves - thinly sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
4 ripe tomatoes - sliced
100 g Manchego cheese - grated
300 ml vegetable stock
300 ml milk
50 g Polenta
1 tablespoon rosemary - finely chopped
2 eggs - lightly beaten



Method

Veg Polenta Gratin (04) by MeetaK


In a large pan heat the olive oil and sauté all the vegetables (except for the tomatoes) individually until slightly browned. It is important to sauté each vegetable type individually as each one requires a different amount of time for them to be cooked. The vegetables should be crunchy and not mushy.

For the polenta bring the milk and the stock to a rolling boil in a saucepan. Mix in the polenta and rosemary, then reduce the heat and simmer for approx. seven minutes on low heat. Remove from heat and allow to coll slightly. Whisk in the grated cheese and eggs to the cooled polenta. Generously salt and pepper.

Heat up the oven to 180 degrees C. Coat an oven-proof dish with some olive oil. Layer the vegetables, tomaotes and polenta in the form, taking care that the polenta covers the vegetables.

Bake the gratin for 35-40 minutes.

Enjoy with fresh garlic bread.

More Ingredients:
On the right sidebar you will find the section "The Know-Hows of Food", where you can refer back to for to several types of vegetables, fruits, spices and other types of groceries and gourmet food. You will also find several cooking and baking methods under the index "How Tos". So, if you are looking for food facts, selecting or storing tips this is the perfect section for you to refer back to.



Verdict

Veg Polenta Gratin (03) by MeetaK


Wonderfully aromatic and colorfully fresh. This is a perfect dish for misty, moist, cooler Fall days. Soothing to the core and so healthy. Soeren ravished two platefuls, to my pleasure and Tom who normally says polenta and pumpkin are not his things, was pleasantly surprised that polenta and pumpkin can taste so good.

More Vegetarian Cheesy Dishes:
Baked Potato with Ricotta and Chanterelle Mushrooms
Cheese Quesadillas with Two Salsas
Calzone's Super Veg Cheese Sandwich
Palak Paneer
Chiles Rellenos
Aubergine Bake
Cheese Spaetzle from the Allgaeu

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26 comments:

  1. I love it how your pumpkin has retained its form.

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  2. Looks great Meeta...never tasted a polenta with pumpkin before, but love the color! perfect fall color:)

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  3. That's a beautiful dish. I wish the farmer's market close by my house would introduce a cheese stall, but we're lucky to have more than two farmers there the one day a week it's open. Still, I'm glad that it has finally opened - and I'm certainly doing my part to make sure it stays around!

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  4. If only I could get my hubby to eat veggies! Sigh, this looks fantastic. though.

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  5. Meeta, this looks absolutely wonderful! Great colors, combination of flavors, and perfect for this time of year. Will definitely try it.

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  6. lovely hues.. as always.. i hate pumpkin though :)

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  7. I just bought a chunk of manchego, I should really give this a go!

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  8. Beautiful photos! I don't believe that I've tasted manchego cheese but I've been hearing about it so much over the last few years. I need to get my hands on some soon!

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  9. Meeta, those colours are fabulous - so autumnal and inviting! I've eaten manchego cheese before, but never cooked with it, so it'd be interesting to try!!

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  10. I love tasting different types of cheese too.....your pictures, as always, are awesome!

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  11. beautiful fall colours in ur dish meeta.

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  12. What a wonderful recipe to showcase all of the wonderful fall vegetables!

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  13. hey Meeta, inspired by ur lovely pics I made the gratin last night, it turned out awesome :) I had never baked with pumpkin before, I used fresh butternut spuash fom the farmers mrkt & hv to say it blended so well with red peppers! I did not hv all the ing, did not use egg & substituted the polenta with bread crumbs!
    Thanks for the inspiration, sweetie! Hope to see many more baked dishes this fall!

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  14. I admire how painstakingly you co-ordinate all the colours. Love it Meeta :)

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  15. I adore pumpkin...the dish looks perfect...and the colours, so very autumnal indeed.

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  16. Everything to love about this Meeta, polenta, Manchego and my goodness even my favorite mushrooms! Such beautiful color and of course your photos are really fantastic. Perfect for fall and the cool.

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  17. Pumpkin truly symbolizes the autumn season Meeta. I have had it with soup and in desserts, pancakes and breads but have never really thought to prepare it in other ways. I can certainly see what I am missing!!!

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  18. Hi everyone! Thanks for these wonderful comments.

    Sandeepa, yes that's why is such dishes where many veggies are mixed together it is vital to cook them individually. This will guarantee perfect crunchy veggies.

    Shriya - it's lovely isn't it!

    Mansi, you have to try it out. Polenta is a with all kinds of veggies.

    Deborah, glad to hear! Farmer's markets are a real fantastic place to buy great fresh veggies and fruit. Could not imagine living without mine!

    Peabody, you could always disguise them in something sweet ;-)

    Lydia, thanks. Let me know what you thought of it!

    Nags, oh you should give this a try! You might change your mind!

    Brilynn, oh yes! This one is just for you. I am sure you would really love it.

    Nicole, it's a lovely cheese. I love the aroma and flavor. Hope you get some too.

    Pille, Manchego adds a wonderful distinct note to the food it is prepared with. We really enjoy it with pasta dishes too.

    Nabeela, Sia, Deborah - thanks!

    Richa, what a great surprise. Glad you liked it. And thanks for telling me about it. I'm beaming now LOL!

    Sug, Thanks, but it was not that painstaking LOL!

    Sunita, thanks!

    Tanna, oh you will love this for sure!

    Valli, give this a try and you will really love it!

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  19. this looks fabulous meeta. i've never made a polenta dish that was worth eating, with this recipe i think that's about to change! enjoy your holiday.

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  20. Looks delicious and beautiful, with the rich warm colours (and flavours) bringing a little warmth along!
    Ronell

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  21. I miss a good cheese monger. I can find what I need at Whole Foods and such, but my god I would run a 10k for anything unpasteurized right now!! Beautiful recipe that is going ito my to-do list!

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  22. Appreciate all your comments. This dish is just perfect for the cold wet Fall weather. It's sooo soothing!

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  23. I am making this for dinner tonight! It looks fabulous already :), thanks for the great recipe.

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Thank you for visiting What's For Lunch, Honey? and taking time to browse through my recipes, listen to my ramblings and enjoy my photographs. I appreciate all your comments, feedback and input. I will answer your questions to my best knowledge and respond to your comments as soon as possible.

In the meantime I hope you enjoy your stay here and that I was able to make this an experience for your senses.

Hugs
Meeta