Mozzarella and Roasted Mediterranean Vegetables on Polenta Croutons

A mixture of oven roasted Mediterranean vegetables on polenta croutons makes an exciting canapé for any party. The best bit about the canape is that it can all be prepared a day or two in advance and simple assembled before serving them. The croutons can also be frozen and simply defrosted for 30 minutes before reheating them.

Preparation: 20 minutes

Cooking: 30 minutes

Ingredients

Roasted Mediterranean Vegetables

  • 300g mixed wild mushrooms, cleaned, sliced and small ones left whole
  • 2 red peppers, halved and deseeded
  • 2 yellow or green or orange peppers, halved and deseeded
  • 300g Portobello mushrooms, sliced and cut into small pieces 1cm x 3 cm
  • 3 medium aubergines, sliced into even pieces lengthwise and cut into slithers around 1cm x 3cm
  • 3 large courgettes, sliced into medium slices lengthwise and cut into slithers around 1cm x 3cm
  • 400g plum or vine ripened tomatoes, quartered or small ones halved
  • 6-8 sprigs of thyme
  • 6 sprigs of rosemary
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 100ml virgin olive oil
  • maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper

Polenta Croutons

  • 300g quick polenta
  • 5 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
  • 2 tbsp dried mixed herbs
  • 50g butter
  • maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper

To Serve

  • 300g mozzarella, diced into 30 small pieces

Method

  1. Roasted Vegetables:Place the mushrooms, courgettes and aubergines on an oven tray and toss them with the garlic, thyme, oregano, rosemary, olive oil and seasoning.
  2. Place the peppers on a separate tray coated in a little bit of olive oil.
  3. Place the vegetables in the preheated oven and cook them for 20-30 minutes. Check them regularly turning and tossing them as necessary. When the vegetables are tender and the aubergine, courgettes are golden and the skin of the peppers are blistered and slightly darkened remove them from the oven and leave them to cool. Allow the peppers to cool for a few minutes them with a small sharp knife peel off the skin. Slice the peppers into small slithers around the same size as the rest of the vegetables.
  4. Toss all the roasted vegetables together in a bowl and cover them with a lid or cling film. Store them in the fridge for up to two days before reheating.
  5. Polenta Croutons: Line a flat baking tin with non-stick baking parchment or olive oil. Cook the polenta according to packet instructions. When it is done, stir in the Parmesan, dried herbs, butter, salt and pepper, making sure that it is adequately seasoned. While still hot, pour it out evenly to make a thin even layer, smoothing it out with the back of a wooden spoon or palate knife. Leave to cool completely, so that it is firm.
  6. Cut it with a small round pastry cutter (2inches/5cm). Place the polenta croutons in a sealed container in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
  7. To Serve: Preheat an oven to 200°C. Place the polenta croutons on an oven proof tray and place a spoonful of the roasted Mediterranean vegetable mixture on each crouton. Finish the croutons with a small piece of mozzarella. Place the tray into the preheated oven for 5-8 minutes until the mozzarella is melted. Serve hot.
  • Most supermarkets sell premade set polenta in vacuum sealed packets on the shelves with the pasta products. These are useful when you don't have the time to make the polenta yourself.