Yeah That’s right, you read things right. I have a few friends that tell me “yeah, polenta?! comes in a weird tube at the grocery store. I don’t like that stuff” Well friend, I don’t like “that stuff” too.
This is the first post of a series that helps you get past all that processed foods at the store. Please, make your own. Yes, you can do it and yes, you do have time. Your taste buds and your body will thank you later. I thought it would be really fun to start referencing different ingredients that are versatile, easy to cook and that probably are unfamiliar with some of you around these parts.
So What is Polenta??!
I have asked customers, in my past if they knew what Grits are. Super similar (Not the same type of corn) but I’m sure in the south looking for “pie crust grits” or replacing lasagna noodles with” layers of grits” is like looking for gluten free gumbo if you get the idea.
Polenta is ground cornmeal used in Italian cooking. Made into a creamy side, chilled and fried or into baking sweet treats. Because cornmeal is made from corn it’s naturally gluten-free.
We love polenta.
I can make a big batch, and it’s so cheap. I just pour it into a baking dish and let it set up for a few hours or overnight. Then I can cut it into bite sized squares and sauté it with whatever veggies we have around.
This makes a great lunch and here we had it with cottage cheese sprinkled with chia seeds and a apple.
Have you all tried making your own polenta? It’s so worth it and versatile, add pesto, cheese or tomatoes right inside it for extra flavor.
Yes, it does require some attention as it cooks, but not more than, say, steel-cut oatmeal. Don’t fret about constant stirring, just stir a bit here and there and keep it on low. It does take 30-40 minutes. Most importantly the ratio of liquid—whether water, milk, or stock—to polenta, and the cooking time. Those are the things far too many people make the mistake at. Depending on the grind of the cornmeal, even a 4:1 ratio can be too low; I almost always use a ratio of 5 parts water to 1 part polenta by volume. If I am going to chill and then later grill the polenta I will use less water, 4 parts water to 1 part polenta.
🌽Here is a basic recipe 🌽
5 cups water, stock or milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup cornmeal or polenta Bob’s Red Mill it’s our favorite and local here in Milwaukie, Or
optional- butter or oil
In a heavy saucepan bring the liquid and salt to a boil and gradually whisk in cornmeal in a thin stream. Cook polenta over moderately low heat (it should be barely boiling), Stir in butter or olive oil using either a spoon, silicon spatula, or whisk. If polenta forms lumps, beat vigorously with a stiff whisk to remove. If polenta becomes too firm or begins to set, add a small amount of water, stock, or milk, and beat in with a whisk until fully incorporate and no lumps remain. Polenta will keep warm, covered, about 30 minutes
Serve right away or scrape into a baking dish and chill until set, then cut into pieces for grilling, frying or sauté.
This is creamy polenta with spinach and parmesan, topped with tomato sauce.