Polenta with tomatoes and red bell pepper

This a straightforward dish which uses very few ingredients. It is fresh tasting and brightly coloured. Bell peppers are not peppery at all, but contribute a faint, slightly sharp  tang to what is predominantly a tomato-flavoured sauce. If you don't care for the pepper, it can simply be left out to give full emphasis to the tomatoes. 

Alternatively, if  you like your tomato sauce more highly flavoured, then adjust it  accordingly by adding an onion and/or garlic. You could also include some fresh or dried herbs.  Parsley, basil, mint, and oregano, all go well with tomatoes.But, here is my minimalist version for four people 


Polenta, cooked. See Polenta and how to cook it
Two 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
1 medium-sized red bell pepper, de-seeded, sliced lengthways, then cut crossways into medium sized pieces
Tomato purée
Golden granulated sugar, I level tsp (optional)
Salt and pepper
175g (6oz) of vegetarian cheese, grated. I used emmenthal here, but any hard cheese will do.      


Cut about half of the already prepared polenta into squares of a suitable size to cover the base of a lightly buttered or oiled oven-to-table dish, approximately 20cms (8 inches) x 30 cms (12 inches) x 5cms (2 inches). 

Gently fry the pepper in olive oil and a knob of butter (optional) for three or four minutes. Add a good squirt of tomato purée, the sugar, and salt and pepper. Cover very lightly with stock, stir well and cook together for a further few minutes until little liquid remains. Then pour in the tomatoes, bring to boiling point, reduce, and simmer uncovered to thicken the sauce, though not too much. There are enough tomatoes here to provide a generous topping. If you feel there are too many, hold some back, but remember you do want enough liquid to permeate the polenta. This reducing process should take about fifteen minutes.   

Pour the sauce over the polenta, cover with the cheese, drizzle some olive oil on the cheese, and finally (and optionally) grate black pepper on the top. Place in the pre-heated oven, Gas 5, 375F, 190C, and cook for 25 or 30 minutes, until the top of the polenta is beginning to crisp. 

Serve with a lettuce salad, or a couple of vegetable side dishes, and olives.