Parmesan Basket with Polenta and Roasted Vegetables

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Parmesan Baskets
8 ounces parmesan cheese, coarsely grated
tomato sauce
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
Pesto Oil
1/3 cup olive oil
10 to 12 basil leaves
2 ounces parmesan cheese, finely grated
2 cups vegetable broth (see basics)
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Roasted Vegetables
1 pound mixed vegetables, cubed (eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes and shallots)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped basil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 sprigs fresh basil
8 basil leaves, cut in chiffonade

To make the basket: Preheat the oven to 400 F. Spread the cheese into 4 circles on a Teflon baking sheet, making sure the pieces overlap and the thickness is even. You will need to use two baking sheets or bake in two batches. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the cheese has fused to itself; test by lifting one side with a plastic spatula. Remove and immediately place over an inverted glass, shaping the cheese into a basket. Allow to cool and harden. Remove from glasses and store in an airtight container until used.

To make the tomato sauce: Sauté the garlic and onion in olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat until translucent. Add the tomatoes, reduce heat to low and cook until the tomatoes lose their shape and the mixture thickens slightly, about 15 minutes. Put in a squeeze bottle.

To make the pesto oil: Process the ingredients in a food processor or blender until liquefied. Put in a squeeze bottle.

To make the polenta: Grease a baking sheet. Bring the broth to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Gradually whisk in the cornmeal, olive oil, and seasoning. Lower the heat to medium and cook for 20 minutes, stirring continually. Spread onto the prepared baking sheet and allow to set. Cut into 2-1/2-inch circles.

To make the vegetables: Preheat the oven to 400 F. Toss the vegetables in olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes.

To serve: Reheat the polenta in the oven or sauté for 2 minutes a side in olive oil. Place a basket on each serving plate. Press a polenta circle into the bottom of each basket. Fill with vegetables. Drizzle the plate with tomato and pesto oils. Garnish each plate with chiffonade of basil leaves and a fresh basil sprig.

Serves 4

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