Polenta. It evokes different things in different people. Some people have never eaten it. Others think of it as cheap peasant food. Still, others see it as a gourmet delight.
The truth is Polenta is really just cornmeal mush. Yep. That's right. It's not very exciting. Just the word "mush" sounds sad, boring, unappealing.and tasteless, doesn't it? But somehow Polenta is comforting, warm, filling and inexpensive. It's also the EASIEST thing to make for ANYONE who ventures into the kitchen. ANYONE can make good polenta. I promise.
In the grocery store, you can find fine ground cornmeal in the baking section. It's so much less expensive . Alternatively you can buy the stuff in the Italian aisle called Polenta...sometimes it's a bit finer...but it's pricier. (you can get fine Italian polenta in small packages at Valley Produce Market for a great price if you are local to Santa Clarita) Polenta is also available "ready to use" in tubes. You may want to buy the ready made kind for this recipe if you don't want to make it. ME? I would never spend $3.00 to $5.00 on a tube of polenta you can make for about a buck, but that's me and I am cheap like that.
Hereis how to make polenta in an itty-bitty nut shell:
1 cup fine cornmeal (polenta)
1-1/2 cups to 2 cups water
Boil the water.....Add the polenta in a slow stream whisking constantly to avoid lumps (definitely avoid lumps). Continue whisking while it's cooking over med-low heat until it's thick. THAT'S IT.
Now I say "that's it" very tongue and cheek. Seriously......That's BORING, right? But the greatest thing about polenta is its ability to latch onto flavors. Herbs, spices, sauces, CHEESE, vegetables, special oils and vinegars, and the list goes on. Be creative, add all kinds of things, bits of meat and cheese, Sweet peppers and onions, cheese and mushrooms, basil, garlic, pine nuts and cheese (pesto style)......just don't forget to add the most important cooking ingredient - the Salt and Pepper. Serve it soft like mashed potatoes, firm or anywhere in between.
Put any left overs in a sprayed plastic container ( tupperware ) - this is how you "mold" it.
I am excited when I have left over polenta. It makes the best breakfast!
Polenta and Eggs
6 WW/PP (depending on your egg and olive oil qty)
MOLDED Polenta (mine had salt, pepper, sauteed onions and sweet red peppers)
Eggs (depending on how many you will eat and how many peeps your cooking for)
1 whole roma tomato per person - sliced and ROASTED with seasonings (I used zataar seasoning, salt and pepper)
1/2 triangle light laughing cow cheese - mozerella and sun dried tomoato flavor
Fresh basil (if you have it or want to buy it)
Olive oil and white balsamic (or regular balsamic vinegar) I use 1 teaspoon per person of each
Remove the polenta from the Mold. Evenly slice it, and thinkly slice the basil (if using):
Spray your saute pan and one side of the poleta and put it spray side down hot skillet and let them "fry"until pretty browned. Spray the opposite side, turn them over and let the other side get pretty browned. While these are frying, roast your tomatoes. We have discussed roasting tomatoes a lot. Just as before, line a pan with foil. place sliced tomatoes on the foil....season them with salt, pepper and other seasonigs (just salt and pepper are fine) and pop them under a hot broiler. Turn them once if you wish and remove when they are roasted to your liking.
Mix a teaspoon of oil and vinegar together ( I used roasted garlic olive oil and white balsamic - devine!)
When the polenta is done. Remove them to a plate, spread half the triangle of laughing cow on hot polenta ( I know, Im using 1/2! It really doesnt need more but feel free to add it if you want it) - pile the tomatoes on top
Fry your eggs to your liking, lay them on top of the tomatoes and top with fresh basil. Ppour your oil and vinegar around the plate so you can "dip" each bite into it.
The result? A truly decadent and upscale breakfast/brunch that transforms polenta into a gourmet affair. Every bite is perfect and balanced. It's anything BUT peasent food.!
From my home to yours, ENJOY!