Basil Polenta with Ratatouille


* 4 cups water

* 1 teaspoon salt, divided

* 1 cup cornmeal

* 1/2 cup minced fresh basil

* 1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

* 1 medium onion, halved and sliced

* 1 medium green pepper, julienned

* 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided

* 4 garlic cloves, minced

* 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained

* 1/2 cup pitted Greek olives, sliced

* 1 teaspoon dried oregano

* 1/4 teaspoon pepper

* Fresh basil leaves


* In a large heavy saucepan, bring water and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil. Reduce heat to a gentle boil; slowly whisk in cornmeal. Cook and stir with a wooden spoon for 15-20 minutes or until polenta is thickened and pulls away cleanly from the sides of the pan. Stir in basil.

* Spread into an 8-in. square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

* Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute the eggplant, onion and green pepper in 2 tablespoons oil until crisp-tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Stir in the tomatoes, olives, oregano, pepper and remaining salt. Cook and stir over medium heat for 10-12 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

* Cut polenta into four squares. In another large skillet, cook polenta in remaining oil in batches for 7-8 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Serve with ratatouille; garnish with basil. Yield: 4 servings.