I love polenta. Polenta is gluten-free and made from grinding hard corn into a meal. After I stopped eating wheat, I rotated a handful of staple ‘dinner carbohydrates’ – mainly, quinoa, sweet potatoes and brown rice. Over some time, I needed to change things up a bit and branch out of my comfort zone. So I added polenta, among other things, to my repertoire. I hadn’t realised how easy it is to make.
Even if you don’t have any wheat or gluten intolerances, polenta’s something I recommend every household cook make now and then. It’s delicious, versatile and economical! Besides, rotating your grains, like any other food, helps your body to get different nutrients that they have to offer. It also keeps things interesting and fun.
- 1 cup polenta (corn meal)
- 4 cups water or homemade stock to make firm polenta (or 5 cups to make soft polenta)
- sea salt to taste
- flavouring of your choice, like pesto (see Variations)
Boil water (or stock) and salt in a heavy-based pot. When it starts to boil slowly add the polenta, stirring as you add.
Turn down the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for about 20 minutes. You will need to stir frequently throughout the cooking process. I find using a wooden spoon the best. Once cooked, stir in the flavouring of your choice – see Variations below.
For the firm polenta, pour mixture into a lightly oiled dish (the size of the dish will depend on the depth you’re after).
Once the polenta has firmed up, cut and serve with some homemade baked beans, or you can pan fry the polenta pieces and serve it with some grilled mushrooms and shaved parmesan.
If you’re making soft polenta, then serve it straight from the pot.
Some suggestions for flavourings:
- A couple of teaspoons of chopped herbs, like fresh rosemary or basil
- A tablespoon of butter
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan or pecorino cheese, with a knob of butter
- 2–3 tablespoons of pesto