Tired of potatoes at every meal? Sick of rice? Giving pasta a break? How about giving polenta a try?
Polenta's an easy side and is so very versatile. It can be creamy like potatoes or firm like bread. You can cut it into shapes and use it instead of crackers, and eat it hot or cold. Like gravy or risotto, it can seem off-putting and scary to make, but in truth it's really very easy.
To start, you need some liquid. The ratio of polenta to liquid is 1:4 (that is, one part polenta, four parts liquid.) If you're planning on slicing your polenta later and want something more firm, then 1:3 would be a better bet. But today I'm serving it under pot roast, so I want it to be creamy and smooth.
Here's polenta next to everyday cornmeal (don't adjust your computer's monitor, it's white cornmeal!) You can see that the regular cornmeal is a lot finer and more evenly ground.
You could use all sorts of things to flavor your polenta. Making a southwestern dish? Try roasted chilis and cheddar cheese! Maybe some roasted corn or rinsed black beans would round out the flavors. And top it with cilantro!
Going more Italian? Parm and sundried tomatoes sound pretty good. Maybe throw in some olives, roasted red pepper, or roasted garlic, too? And give it a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil before diving in!
Want a hearty vegetarian dish? Roasted or grilled vegetables would make this taste great! Stir in some silken tofu instead of the cheese if you're going completely vegan.
Serving breakfast instead of dinner? What better way to wake up than with polenta studded with scrambled eggs, cheese, and sausage?
Polenta's a pretty clean slate. Just about anything you could think of would make it taste good.
Anyway, back to actually making the polenta. I plunk a knob of butter on top of my bowl of cheese, just so it's within easy reach.
Don't forget the salt and pepper!
I added some half and half for some richness.