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Although polenta may only make guest appearances in our diet, it is very versatile: Creamy or crispy, hard or soft, it can be enjoyed as an accompaniment to meat, browned with sauce or quite simply seasoned with butter and cheese.
And the leftovers can be sliced and served cold or sautéd in a pan.
Polenta is cornmeal that is cooked for a long time in water. It was once the staple food of people living in the mountainous regions of northern Italy; southern Italians mockingly call northern Italians “polentoni“.
The food industry has come up with instant polenta which is much quicker to cook, taking only 5 minutes now as against the traditional 45 minutes. But of course nothing beats the flavour of a slow-cooked polenta.
From a nutritional standpoint, polenta consists mainly of satiating complex carbohydrates that are slowly released into the body. Another advantage: It is gluten-free.
Use 1 part flour to 4 parts water (or broth or milk), but increase the amount of liquid if the cornmeal contains coarser grains or if you want a softer result (“all’onda“, i.e., polenta that has a ripple effect).
Try our basic recipe for polenta.
Originally published in the Journal de Montréal on January, 17, 2015.