Neapolitan Vegetables en Papilotte with Polenta

Jean-Christophe Novelli's vegetarian feast is crammed with fresh summery Mediterranean produce and - of course - a dash of truffle oil!
By Jean-Christophe Novelli
Neapolitan Vegetables en Papilotte with Polenta
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
  • Prep Time:
  • Effort: hard


For the Neapolitan sauce

  • 8 plum tomatoes
  • 2x400 g canned chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tsp tomato purée
  • olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled, halved, heart removed
  • 10 basil

For the polenta

  • 1.75 litres milk
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 255 g coarse grain yellow cornmeal, or polenta
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 tbsp mascarpone
  • 1 tbsp grated parmesan
  • 1 tbsp truffle oil
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

For the papillotes

  • olive oil, for frying
  • 1 aubergine
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 courgette, sliced
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and cut in 2cm strips
  • 1 green pepper, deseeded and cut in 2cm strips
  • 1 yellow pepper, deseeded and cut in 2cm strips
  • 4baby fennel, roughly sliced
  • 4 banana shallots, halved
  • 1 head garlic, cloves peeled, halved, heart removed
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 bunch basil
  • 12 black olives
  • olive oil
  • freshly ground salt and black pepper
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten


1. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. To begin the Neapolitan sauce: heat some olive oil in a casserole and add the chopped fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes and tomato paste. Cover with damp greaseproof paper and the lid. Place in the oven for 1-1½ hours or until sauce is reduced.

2. Meanwhile, make the polenta. Bring the milk to boil in a heavy saucepan. Add the salt, keep the milk boiling on a medium-high heat and gradually add the cornmeal in a very thin stream, letting a fistful of it run through your nearly closed fingers while whisking constantly with you other hand.

3. Add the chopped garlic to the pan and stir constantly with a long-handled wooden spoon, bringing the mixture up from the bottom and loosening it from the sides of the pan. Continue to cook, stirring, for 40-45 minutes, until the polenta pulls cleanly away from the sides of the pan.

4. Line a tray with cling film and pour the polenta oven it. Set aside to cool.

5. When the sauce is thick, remove it from the oven. Add the garlic and basil and set aside to infuse. Leave the oven on.

6. To make the vegetable papillotes: heat a sauté pan over a high heat and add some olive oil. Lightly sauté each variety of vegetable separately for 1-2 minutes, adding more oil to the pan as necessary, and seasoning each batch with salt and pepper. When frying the aubergine, add the sugar to colour and sweeten the vegetable.

7. Cut 4 large circles of greaseproof paper and place each one in a shallow bowl. Divide the vegetables equally among the bowls, adding the garlic, thyme, basil, olives, and a little olive oil and seasoning.

8. Brush the edges of the paper circles with egg white and carefully fold up the edges all the way around to form a seal. Place each bag of vegetables on a baking tray, sprinkle the tray with cold water and bake for 15 minutes or until the paper is brown.

9. Remove the papillotes from the oven and open carefully, standing back to avoid the steam. Drain the vegetables together in a colander, reserving the drained cooking juices.

10. When almost ready to serve, season the sauce to taste. Heat two-thirds of the sauce in a large saucepan, adding the cooked, drained vegetables. Place the remainder of the sauce in a small saucepan and thin to pouring consistency with olive oil. Allow the sauce to heat through.

11. To finish the polenta, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the polenta and beat until smooth with a spatula, then add the vegetable cooking

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