Napoléons are usually pastries made of three layers of puff pastry and two crème pâtissière layers with a fondant topping. I made a savory equivalent using layers of grilled polenta slices, portobello mushrooms, cheddar cheese, grilled asparagus and tomatoes from our garden.
It's finally tomato season! My husband planted 19 different plants of various tomatoes, which means I'm going to be cooking a lot of tomatoes until the fall. Lulu gathered a large basket of cherry tomatoes that I roasted in fresh thyme and served as garnish. We also happened to find some asparagus Lulu planted several years ago that we were never really able to harvest. It was a nice surprise, so I grilled them too, and added them to the Napoléon layers. I was very proud of how the dish ended up looking: colorful and pretty.
In my opinion, Napoléons have to look gorgeous before being eaten. We eat with our eyes first and I'm confident these savory Napoléons will satisfy the pickiest eater.
Servings: 8 servings
2 (18-ounce) packages pre-cooked polenta
2 pounds cherry tomatoes (Sweet 100), stemmed
3 medium tomatoes, cut into thirds crosswise
16 asparagus spears, halved lengthwise
8 Portobello mushrooms
1 lime, zested and freshly squeezed
¼ cup aged cheddar cheese, shaved
½ cup olive oil
8 (2¾"-diameter) disks fresh mozzarella, about ¼" thick
2 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
½ teaspoon red chili flakes
4 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black peppercorns, freshly ground
Prepping the Portobello mushrooms: Remove the stem from the mushrooms. Using the edge of a spoon, scrape and remove their gills. Wipe the inside clean using a paper towel (see tips). Drizzle the mushrooms with olive oil.
Roasting the cherry tomatoes:
Preheat the oven to 300°F.
Slice the cherry tomatoes in half lengthwise. Brush a baking pan with olive oil. Arrange the tomatoes, flesh side up.
In a small bowl, combine 1 sprig thyme, the lime juice and 4 tablespoons olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the mixture into a plastic squeeze bottle, shake well and squirt it over the tomatoes.
Roast for 1½ hours at 300°F. At the end, to get a caramelized look, change the setting to broil for about 2 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
For the polenta: Cut the polenta into ½-inch thick slices. Brush them with olive oil. Season with salt. Set aside.
For the Napoléon topping:
Sprinkle both sides of the mozzarella slices with the remaining thyme, red chili flakes and lime zest.
Brush a hot grill with olive oil. Place the whole mushrooms on the hot grill, hat side down. Cook until you get grill marks. Flip them and cook for another minute. Remove from the grill.
Using a 2¾" metal circle cutter, form 8 mushroom disks.
Place the mushroom disks on a baking pan. Top with the mozzarella slices and place under the broiler in the oven for 3 minutes until golden.
Meanwhile, gather the mushroom remnants and coarsely chop them. Add 2 tablespoons parsley and the drippings from the cherry tomato pan. Season with salt and pepper. Toss well.
Using the same hot grill, brush with more olive oil if necessary. Grill the polenta slices, asparagus spears and medium tomato slices.
Place a 2¾" metal circle cutter on an individual serving plate, stack 1 polenta slice, garnish with thin shavings of cheddar cheese onto the hot polenta and fill with the chopped Portobello mushrooms. Place a polenta slice and add more cheddar cheese shavings. Gently remove the circle cutter, add 4 pieces of asparagus spears, the grilled thick tomato slice and the last polenta slice. Finish with the broiled Portobello mushroom disk. Repeat with the rest of the ingredients.
Garnish with the roasted cherry tomatoes and more parsley.