Polenta with Roasted Tomatoes


2 pints red or yellow cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes or small roma tomatoes
5 to 6 cloves unpeeled garlic
6 to 8 sprigs fresh thyme, divided
A few pinches kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 to 4 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup coarse ground cornmeal (polenta)
2 cups grated smoked mozzarella cheese*, divided


• Preheat the oven to 225 degrees. Slice the tomatoes in half and toss in a bowl with the garlic, 3 to 5 sprigs of thyme, a few pinches of salt and pepper and 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil. Bake 2½ hours, then let cool.
• When the garlic is cool, remove the peel and mash the roasted cloves, some olive oil and salt into a paste. Set aside.
• Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Spray a baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. Bring 4 cups water to boil in a medium-large pot, and slowly whisk in the polenta. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring every couple minutes. Continue 20 to 30 minutes, stirring regularly until the polenta is creamy.
• Remove the leaves from the remaining thyme and chop. Add the chopped thyme, 1 tablespoon olive oil, the cheese and roasted garlic to the polenta.
• Pour the polenta into the baking dish. Top with the tomatoes and remaining cheese. Bake 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown. Remove, let cool 10 minutes and serve – or get out of the way!

*Parmesan, fontina, pepper jack and cheddar would all work well.