Home Cooking

How to Make Polenta

February 07 2012 - 3:21 PM

Polenta is one of those dishes that is fancy, sophisticated and also extremely easy and cheap to make. There aren’t many meals that fit into this category. You’ll find polenta on the menu at fancy Italian restaurants, but why? Well, it’s delicious, especially when it’s made with plenty of cream and cheese. But you can make a lighter version at home that will cost you far less. Plus, a little bit goes a long way with this dish.

Serve your polenta as a main dish or as a side to grilled steak or chicken marsala. I topped mine with roasted acorn squash. Some balsamic roasted mushrooms or peppers would also make a great addition to the dish. Here are the basics.

Basic Polenta
Makes about 4 servings

3/4 cup cornmeal
3 cups water (you can use broth here, too)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 8 oz. can sewed tomatoes
1/2 tbsp minced or crushed garlic
1 tbsp butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Simmer water or broth until lightly boiling. Very slowly, pour in the cornmeal, constantly stirring. Lower heat to medium, and allow to cook for another 10 minutes, until mixture thickens. Cut up tomatoes until they are in large pieces. Stir in cheese, tomatoes, garlic and butter. Let cook for another 5 minutes. Add in salt and pepper. If you want a more liquidy mixture, serve immediately with your choice of meat or vegetables. Allowing the polenta to sit will make it solidify much more.

Polenta really takes on whatever flavors you add to it. In this recipe, the sweetness of the tomatoes and the garlic perfectly complement the polenta and the creamy cheese. And the best part? The leftovers are even better.

–Marly Schuman