polenta

June 26, 2013 § 57 Comments

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Polenta is one of my best loved dinners and I enjoy it served creamy and cheesy, delicate and sweet, as well as complex and hearty.   This polenta recipe is a bit hearty and crowned with a fresh parsley pesto and cherry tomato sauté.  I particularly enjoy Bramata polenta.  It is a rustic stone-milled corn which is moderately coarse for a thicker consistency.

My first polenta dinner was quite an experience.   I had a friend over who wanted to prepare a classic dish he had as a child growing up in Italy.  In my friend’s opinion the only way polenta should be eaten is with a rich meat sauce.  His plan was to prepare Polenta with Chicken Livers.  Once the polenta was cooked it was poured directly onto my dining table and topped with the chicken liver sauce.  Although I was very impressed by the presentation, I do not have the palate for chicken livers so I kept trying to scrape the edges where the sauce didn’t touch.  Even without the sauce, I was captivated by the creamy texture and tiny bits of corn meal similar to the grits my mom would prepare.

Throughout the years I have formed my own opinions about preparing and serving polenta.  When cooking polenta, for added flavor I like using broth rather than water.   Sometimes I add a few tablespoons of rosemary.  I always include butter and when I am preparing a savory polenta a nice grated parmesan.  To top it off…tomato sauce, pesto, honey and butter, or simply a handful of parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil.

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polenta with cherry tomatoes and parsley pesto

p o l e n t a

  • 1 cup good quality polenta
  • 6 cups of vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

p e s t o

  • large handful of parsley
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup grated grana padano or parmesan cheese
  • salt to taste

t o m a t o   s a u t e’

  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • sea salt to taste

In a large pot heat 6 cups of broth.  When the broth is about to boil, sprinkle in the polenta.  Stir continuously over a low heat until it is a thick smooth mass.  Continue cooking on low heat for about 40 minutes, stirring slowly and evenly.  If polenta starts to spatter turn your heat lower and stir continuously until it settles.  I usually stir once every 3-5 minutes until done.

While polenta is cooking prepare pesto.  Place all pesto ingredients in a food processor and whizz until well combined.  Set aside.

Place a non stick skillet on the stove with 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat.  Saute’ tomatoes for 2 minutes until soft.  Season with a pinch of salt.

Once polenta is cooked add butter and parmesan, mix well and pour onto a large serving platter (or directly onto your table!).  Top with pesto, tomatoes, grated cheese of choice and serve right away.

Serves 4

buon appetite.

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