Originally, polenta is a northern italian dish that was commonly prepared as a side dish, and sometimes substituted for bread. It’s made from yellow or white cornmeal and water, and has many variations for its preparation. Instead of water, using chicken or beef broth will yield a more flavorful polenta. You can add herbs, cheese or sun-dried tomatoes to the mixture before letting it set. It didn’t occur to me to add sun-dried tomatoes when I made this, it just occurred to me as I write this introduction. Next time I make polenta, I will definitely try it out, I’ll probably add a little shredded basil too.
Some interesting information I found out is that a standard serving of polenta has slightly more protein than a large egg. Each 100 grams of dry polenta cooks up into a serving that contains 8.1 grams of protein. For those not eating eggs or meat, it can be an alternative protein resource. Polenta does not contain gluten and can be used by those seeking an alternative to pasta as a base for their favorite Italian dishes. Polenta counts as one of the grains and starches that are allowed in a gluten-free diet, according to Mayo Clinic
As you can see on the photographs, I used tomato sauce for my polenta. This is just basic italian sauce, but I added chopped tomatoes and onion to make it chunky. A mushroom sauce would be a great alternative. You can use this recipe to give you an idea.
Parmesan Polenta Squares
Recipe adapted from Epicurious
Yields: 16 squares
12 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste
- Bring broth to boil in heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat and gradually whisk in cornmeal.
- Reduce heat to medium-low; whisk constantly until mixture boils and becomes very thick, about 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat. Whisk in ½ cup Parmesan; season with salt and pepper.
- Pour polenta into 8 x 8 x 2-inch baking pan; smooth top. Cool until firm, at least 30 minutes, or cover and chill overnight.
- Heat a medium sized pan. Cut polenta into 16 squares; brush generously with oil. Place polenta oiled side down on heated pan, until heated through and golden brown, about 3 minutes per side.
- When you flip your polenta square over, to brown on the second side make sure you brush it with oil as well.
- Transfer to platter. Sprinkle with ½ cup Parmesan.
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