I first got hooked on polenta when my Italian friend, Josephine, made it for me. She stirred yellow cornmeal into homemade broth, adding grated Reggiano and extra virgin olive oil. I loved it so much I had to experiment! I quickly created my first bowl of creamy hot breakfast polenta with nuts and honey. It was wonderful, just like this delicious Breakfast Polenta with Dried Fruits and Almonds.
Polenta is basically boiled porridge made from cornmeal. Originally the name referred to crushed, ground grains and/or legumes. During the 16th century, once corn was cultivated in Europe, cornmeal polenta became an important food for farm families in Northeastern Italy. Because of this, polenta is associated with the cuisine of Northern Italy.
Traditional polenta is typically simmered for about 45 minutes. It requires almost constant stirring. These days, quick cooking and ready-made packaged polenta are easy to find. Once cooked, polenta can be formed into various shapes and then fried, baked or grilled until crispy golden brown on the outside, and creamy-tender on the inside.
Polenta is so versatile, you can serve it for breakfast, lunch, dinner or as an appetizer. Once you try some of these ideas and recipes, I think you’ll agree that polenta is simple, elegant and delicious!
- Spoon steamed or cooked veggies over hot polenta. Add cheese, herbs or other favorite seasonings.
- Use polenta as a base for sauces, stews and thick soups, like in these recipes:
- Chicken and Roast Veggie Stew over Polenta
- Polenta with Kale, Beans and Sausage
- Kale, Mushroom and Tomato Sauté with Polenta
- Slow Cooker Lentil Stew with Polenta
- Halibut in Thai Curry Sauce over Fresh Corn Polenta
- Top polenta with your favorite pasta sauce. Add sautéed greens and protein of choice including meats, cheese, lentils and legumes.
- Make as a breakfast cereal; add nuts, seeds, dried fruits, fresh fruit, and milk of choice.
- For a hearty breakfast, try Breakfast Polenta Casserole.
- Serve polenta in place of potatoes or rice with lunch or dinner.
- Top polenta with favorite baked-potato toppings.
- Make polenta with goat or feta cheese, sundried tomatoes and fresh basil.
- Serve Mediterranean Polenta Rounds or Truffled Roasted Mushrooms on Garlic Polenta as appetizers for your next party.
- Make delicious vegetarian meals with these recipes:
- Barbeque-Style Tofu over Polenta
- Polenta with Wild Mushrooms
- Cheese Polenta with Mushrooms and Artichokes
- Polenta with Mushrooms and Gorgonzola
- If you like mushrooms but want a little meat, try Polenta with Chicken Sausage and Mushrooms.
- Use polenta as a “pizza” crust with favorite pizza toppings. Here’s an idea for a Pepperoni Pizza Polenta Bake. For a tasty savory tart, Polenta Tart with Tomatoes and Goat Cheese takes the “cake.”
- Beef Goulash with Polenta is hearty, filling, and delicious in cold weather.
- Sautéed Shrimp with Polenta and Manchego Sauce is really good. Try it with scallops in place of shrimp if desired.
Have you tried polenta? Got a recipe or a great idea? Let me know.