My love for polenta started at Aqui’s Mexican Restaurant – I really love their entrees that are served with polenta, but it always seemed to be something that I would never consider making at home. Then I discovered Food Merchants ready made polenta at Whole Foods – I could cut the log into slices and grill them, or break down the polenta with some milk or water to turn it into a creamy polenta. This isn’t the cheapest way to make polenta, but a good ingredient to have the in the pantry to throw together a quick dinner (and doesn’t require dirtying up lots of dishes!).
I picked up a bag of cornmeal to try making my own polenta a while ago – be warned, your first attempts may create very gloopy (yes, that’s a real word) messes. I usually look to Alton Brown or America’s Test Kitchen for a more scientific approach to cooking basic foods, but Alton Brown recommends baking your polenta, with constant stirring, and that seems like too much work for me for a weeknight dinner. The best option I found was the following recipe:
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Bring the water to a boil and add the salt.
- With a wire whisk in one hand, slowly stream the cornmeal into the water and whisk constantly.
- Allow the mix to rise up in the pot at least once and then transfer the contents into a double boiler.
- Simmer it on low for about 8 to 10 minutes until fully cooked (some folks say it is done when it starts to come away from the side of the pot).
I love this recipe because it is so versatile. You can add so many other ingredients while adding the polenta to the cooking water – here are some of my ideas, but I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments section!
1) sundried tomatoes and red onions
2) dried basil and garlic
3) ancho chilli powder and ground cumin for some Southwest flavour
4) use a mushroom or vegetable broth instead of water
I made polenta last night and served it with a mixture of black beans, kale, zucchini, celery, onions and garlic seasoned with cumin, chili powder and sea salt. And as I’m posting this picture, I’m realizing that I need to buy some new dishes to showcase my meals, because my good ol’ bowls are getting kinda boring (don’t tell the huz!)