Polenta Two Ways

When I make polenta, I make a double or triple batch. Freshly prepared, it is soft and excellent either as a breakfast porridge or in a meal later in the day. I especially like soft polenta with soupy beans or a vegetable stew.

As soon as the polenta is finished cooking, the anticipated amount of leftover goes into a glass dish to set and be used over the next few days. Cubes of firm polenta make a great finger food for children. Fried polenta is a wonderful variation that can be served throughout the day and can be a nice addition to breakfast.

Basic Polenta

4 cups water
pinch of sea salt
1 cup coarse non-GMO cornmeal or polenta (most often it will need to be organic)

1.  Bring the water to a boil over medium heat in a medium sized pan. Add the sea salt. When the water is boiling vigorously, add the polenta in a steady stream while whisking constantly. Turn the heat down to simmer and stir frequently to prevent polenta from sticking to the bottom.

2.  Continue to cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until polenta is thick and starts to come away from the side of the pan.

3.  Serve immediately as a soft grain or pour into a dish to cool and become firm.

Fried Polenta 

Firm polenta sliced about 1/2″ thick
olive or sesame oil
shoyu or gluten-free tamari

1.  Heat a small or medium saucepan on low medium heat. Add a good amount of oil, enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Gently heat the oil until a little water sputters when sprinkled on top. If the oil smokes, it is too hot and you will need to clean out the pan and start over.

2.  When the oil is the right temperature, add slices of polenta in a single layer and let fry until light brown on the side that touches the oil. At this point, they should be easy to turn over. If you try to turn it over too soon, it won’t come easily and you may leave a layer of fried polenta behind on the pan. Turn each slice over as they are ready. Add a little more oil if necessary.

3.  Fry the other side until light brown. Remove to a plate lined with paper towel or paper bag to soak up excess oil. Sprinkle lightly with shoyu or tamari.

Serving suggestions:

Breakfast:  Soft polenta with sweet vegetable jam, toasted pumpkin seeds, berries, maple syrup. Fried polenta with blanched or steamed greens.

Lunch/Dinner:  Either soft or fried polenta with a vegetable sauce, roasted vegetables, steamed winter squash, saucy pinto beans or black bean chili. The ideas are pretty endless.

Snack:  Cubes of firm polenta as a finger food or fried polenta with a bean spread or hummus and blanched carrot moons.

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