Have you ever seen those tubes of polenta at the store and thought, “what the hell do you do with that?” Or is that just me? Anyways, I came across some information in Delicious Living magazine (I love this freebie!) and thought I would share. Plus, I love anything you can buy in bulk. Enjoy. Eat Well, Carolyn
An Italian staple, polenta is ground corn that’s cooked into a creamy porridge; it can also be cooled to form firm polenta cakes suitable for baking, frying, or grilling. Look for grainy raw polenta in bulk bins and prepackages it’s coarser than the finely ground cornmeal used in cornbread.
Polenta makes a tasty, gluten-free breakfast. Bring 2 cups water to a boil, then add 1/2 cup medium-grain polenta in a thin, steady stream, whisking as you pour. (Double the amounts if you want leftover polenta.) Reduce heat to low and simmer polenta, whisking often, until thick, scraping pan sides with a wooden spoon as needed. Stir in raisins, chopped almonds, and nutmeg, plus milk or cream. Or stir in a little butter, then pour into a wide bowl and top with sautéed spinach and a poached egg.
Serve soft and loose polenta with juicy stews and braised meats; it deliciously soaks up flavor. Pour leftover polenta into a square pan, cover, and refrigerate; when cool, cut into squares. Layer pieces in a baking dish with marinara and grated cheese; bake until bubbly. Or pan-fry squares and top with sautéed mushrooms, tomatoes, and olives. You’ll also find polenta preformed and sold in tubes, usually in the pasta aisle; just remove the covering, slice crosswise into disks, and use as desired.
And now that you are intrigued with polenta, how a recipe…..
Pesto Polenta with Sautéed Portobello Slices
Portobello mushrooms squick me out (the gills and spongy texture…yick) so I substituted about 2 pounds shiitake and cremini mushrooms instead. I also used quick cooking Italian polenta prepared according to the package directions, and it was fine.
3 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt plus more for seasoning
1 cup medium ground corn meal
1/4 cup vegan pesto (homemade or store bought)
3 tablespoons olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, chopped
4 large portobello mushrooms, stems removed and caps cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
1. Bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium, add the salt, and slowly whisk in the cornmeal stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until thick, about 30 minutes. Near the end of the cooking time, thin the pesto with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and stir it into the polenta. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
2. Spoon the polenta into a lightly oiled, shallow, 10-inch square baking dish. Spread it evenly over the bottom. Refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes
3. Heat one tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the mushroom slices, season with salt and pepper to taste, and cook until the mushroom slices are tender, about 5 minutes. Keep warm over very low heat.
4. Preheat the oven to 375º F. When the polenta is firm, cut into four squares. Place on lightly oiled baking sheet and brush with remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Bake until hot and golden brown, about 30 minutes.
5. To serve, transfer polenta to individual plates, spoon some of the mushrooms on top, and serve hot.