Today I’m writing about one of Italy’s most popular and inexpensive comfort foods, polenta (otherwise knows as ground cornmeal). In the south, they call it “grits” which sounds almost as unappealing to me as “spam” but thankfully this is not even close. To be more accurate, grits are typically ground a bit finer so the dish is mushier, while polenta is slightly more coarse. Polenta contains just 71 calories per serving (based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet) and is very low saturated fat and cholesterol.
The versatility of this food is fantastic, especially for those who are gluten free. It can be served as a porridge with cheese and marinara sauce, or cooled and cut into shapes. The creamy and plain taste pairs well with everything from jalapeño to mushrooms, and it is even used in baking, so don’t be surprised if I throw in a cookie recipe made with polenta in the near future!
My favorite way to eat these, however, is with a bowl of chili. This random find came about because my kids love cornbread, but I always seems to find crumbs after the meals in which I serve corn bread. My 8 year old son (the messy eater in the family) seems to drop food all over the floor no matter what I’m serving (I never thought I’d ask for a dust buster for Christmas but it was on my list). Preparing polenta this way is kind of like serving corn bread without the extra crumbs. What is your favorite way to eat polenta? Tweet to me @KateMurrayPA.
6 cups of water
2 cups of polenta
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Step 1: Bring the water to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat and slowly whisk the polenta until it has started to thicken (about 2-3 minutes). Add salt and pepper and mix well.
Step 2: Pour the polenta into a parchment lined baking sheet. Use a spatula to cover evenly. Let cool at room temperature (or refrigerate to set faster) about 1 hour.
Step 3: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut the polenta into strips about 1/4 inch thick. Using a spatula, transfer the strips to a clean rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and bake for about 30 minutes or until the edges are golden.