For the polenta
- 1000g water
- 175g polenta
- 25g unsalted butter
- Olive oil or butter for frying (optional)
- Grated Italian-style hard cheese and fresh basil to serve
For the tomato sauce
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 1 red chilli seeded and finely chopped
- 450g plum tomatoes seeded and chopped
- 2 tbsp capers drained
- 2 tbsp pine nuts toasted
- 115g black olives pitted and roughly chopped
- A few basil leaves torn
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Make the polenta: bring the water and salt to the boil in a large saucepan. Add the polenta gradually in a thin, steady stream, whisking all the time. Reduce the heat as low as it will go and continue stirring the polenta with a wooden spoon until it is thick and smooth and has absorbed all the liquid. This takes about 15-20 minutes.
- When the polenta leaves the sides of the pan clean, stir in the butter. You can serve the polenta like this – all fluffed up like mash potato, adding some grated cheese and black pepper, if wished, or you can pour it into an oiled tin and leave to cool. When cold, cut into squares and fry in olive oil or butter until crisp and golden.
- To make the tomato sauce, heat the olive oil and gently sweat the onion and garlic until soft. Add the chilli and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, capers, pine nuts and olives and simmer gently, uncovered for 30 minutes, until reduced and thickened. Stir in the torn basil leaves and season.
- Serve the sauce with the polenta, sprinkled with some freshly grated Italian-style cheese and garnish with more basil.