Yesterday morning while my husband and daughter played in the garden, I turned the radio on and listened to some news as I started to cook polenta. As I watched hot bubbles of cornmeal slowly emerge and pop within the pot I became somewhat entranced, and visions of strong armed Italian women from days yore came to me as I continuously stirred the wonderfully resistant, thick porridge. Thirty or so minutes later, I felt confident the polenta would take shape, and so I slathered it upon a cookie tray and left it to set for several minutes. I then sliced it, placed it in bowls and topped it with some rustic tomato sauce, to which I added peas. We ate slowly, savoring the food & returning to it again for lunch.
I blame my husband for my polenta fixation, as he took me to this beautiful gourmet restaurant downtown for our anniversary this year and one of the meals we shared, among others, was polenta topped with sautéed veggies in a very full bodied tomato sauce. I could not believe that a dish with such humble roots could be so transformed. Last week at the farmer’s market the chef had a booth set up and was selling some vegetables as well as some premade soups & sauces. I had the opportunity to tell him how much I enjoyed the polenta, and to my pleasure he shared with me his recipe. He cooks his polenta with a little bit of clove and white wine! Yum.
Whether eaten as a comforting hot porridge, left to set as we did and cut into wedges topped with bright sauce, or even cut and toasted into beautifully golden medallions flecked with bits of green onions and cilantro (as my friend introduced to me a couple of years ago), the possibilities with polenta are endlessly delicious and definitely worth a try.