P is for…Polenta!
I was a little confused about the difference between cornmeal and polenta and the line between the two does seem to be fairly blurred. This is one opinion from the Kitchn. I tend to think of polenta as medium or coarse cornmeal and use it mainly for making cornbread (!) and cornmeal pancakes.
This post from Little Vegan Bear reminded me that it’s great on it’s own too. You can eat it creamy and soft (I like it this way for breakfast as an alternative to porridge) or pour it into a dish, cool it, cut it into shapes and bake or pan-fry until crispy.
Many people seem to think they don’t like polenta but I’m convinced that’s because they haven’t had it cooked well. It is very bland so needs plenty of seasoning to make it taste good.
I stirred in some pesto and sundried tomatoes to really amp up the flavour here and served it with some simple balsamic white beans with tomatoes and basil which complemented the dish well.
Pesto Polenta Triangles:
1/4C Non-dairy Milk (unsweetened)
1T Nutritional yeast
1 1/2T Pesto
1/4C Sundried tomatoes (oil-packed or dried + reconstituted in hot water)
Bring the water to a boil in a medium-size pan. Add the polenta and salt and turn the heat down, it might splutter so be careful! It will start to thicken quickly so whisk vigorously to avoid lumps.
If you’re using regular polenta, stir to thicken for 5-10 minutes then add the remaining ingredients. If using instant polenta it will only need about 2 minutes to thicken up.
When all ingredients are incorporated and the mixture is very thick, pour into a lightly oiled container, smooth out top and leave to cool. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
Cut polenta into 6 equal triangles (or shape of your choice). Heat a pan over high and add a drizzle of olive oil. Pan-fry polenta triangles for a approx 3 minutes on both sides until crisp.
I like to use larger white beans like butter beans here but cannellini would also work well. I love this bean dish. It’s sweet and syrupy from the balsamic and red onion, and the juicy cherry tomatoes, just beginning to collapse, burst in your mouth. Plenty of garlic and basil round everything out.
Balsamic White Beans w/Cherry Tomatoes + Basil:
1/2T Olive oil
1/2 Red onion, diced small
1 Clove of garlic, minced
1/4t Dried thyme (optional)
125g/4oz Cherry tomatoes
1 1/2C/1 Can cooked white beans
2T Balsamic vinegar
Salt + pepper
Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium-high. Cook red onion for a few minutes until soft, add garlic and thyme and sauté for another minute. Add Cherry tomatoes and continue to cook until beginning to collapse. Finally add white beans and balsamic vinegar and cook until warm through and the balsamic has reduced.
Season with salt and pepper and serve
A few dishes using polenta that I’ve got my eye on…
This Sweet Potato & Coconut Polenta with Asian Vegetable Fricasée sounds absolutely delicious and is really different to any other polenta dishes I’ve seen.
These South-western Bean & Cornmeal Cakes- You knew I’d feature a patty recipe didn’t you?!
Over to you…
Have you had good experiences with polenta? What do you make with it?
Side Notes: Coconut and Berries now has a print recipe feature! Just click on the link “Print Recipe here” and you’ll be taken to a pdf showing only the recipe without the rest of the post and pictures, for easy printing. Hope it’s helpful for some of you.