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Polenta Tart with Heirloom Tomatoes, Mozzarella, and Prosciutto

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ESEAServes 4 | Start to finish: about 50 minutes

Here’s a quick and easy alternative tart crust that’s light, less complicated than pastry, and naturally gluten-free. The polenta crust holds its shape beautifully and is just as versatile on a dinner table or as a perfect option for casual entertaining. Leftovers make a great, fuss-free workday lunch. You can also parbake the crust ahead of time, store in the refrigerator overnight, and then assemble and bake the next day. This is a great tart to make year-round by altering the ingredients to take advantage of what is in season.

Polenta Crust:

2 1/4 cups water
3/4 cup corn grits (polenta)
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
Non-stick cooking spray (to grease tart pan)

Balsamic Shallots:

2 teaspoons rice bran oil
1 large shallot, sliced thin
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Fine sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Tart filling:

1 bunch fresh basil leaves (10–12 large leaves, plus some for garnish)
1 ball fresh mozzarella, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
2 slices prosciutto, cut crosswise into wide ribbons
1/4 cup balsamic shallots
Handful of small heirloom tomatoes, sliced or quartered
Fine sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

STEPS:

Heat oven to 400°F

Grease a rectangular tart pan with a removable bottom (about 13-inch by 4-inch) with non-stick cooking spray and set it aside.

For the polenta crust: In a medium sauce pan over high heat, bring water and 1/4 teaspoon salt to a boil. Gradually stir in the corn grits. Reduce heat and simmer gently, stirring frequently until thick, about 10 minutes. Cool the polenta for a few minutes and then spread the polenta evenly down the center of the tart pan with a spatula. Lightly oil your hands with cooking spray or cooking oil and evenly press the polenta into the tart pan, working from the middle up to the fluted sides of the pan. Bake the crust on the middle oven rack for 25–30 minutes until firm.

Make the balsamic shallots: Heat the rice bran oil in a small saute pan over medium heat. Add the shallots, saute 5–10 minutes, stirring occasionally until softened and edges are lightly browned and crispy. Reduce heat, stir in the balsamic vinegar, and cook until syrupy, about 1 minute. Season lightly with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. Remove from heat and set aside in a small bowl.

To assemble tart: Line bottom of baked tart shell with basil leaves. Top basil leaves with mozzarella slices. Season lightly with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. Dot the top of mozzarella with the prosciutto ribbons and balsamic shallots. Arrange tomatoes on top as the final layer. Season lightly with fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bake tart for 10 minutes or until hot and the cheese has melted. Cool 5–10 minutes before releasing tart from the pan. Cut into portions and garnish with additional basil before serving.

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