Ingredient Spotlight: Polenta
Made from only cornmeal and water, polenta is a simple, creamy dish with humble origins. Once considered “peasant food”, polenta was originally made from farro, millet, spelt and sometimes, chickpeas. It originated in Italy, and Ancient Romans ate this porridge as a daily nutritive.
Today, the main ingredient is cornmeal, a complex carbohydrate that is slowly digested. Cornmeal helps keep blood-sugar levels low and gives the body lasting energy (instead of a quick spike). It is also rich in folate and a great choice for those with gluten sensitivities. It is an excellent substitute for pasta, and can be served in a similar manner, topped with vegetables and sauces.
Polenta is versatile and adaptable, and can be prepared in a number of ways. You can make a number of quick and easy recipes with it. Serve it in a thick porridge, stirring in sautéed mushrooms and Asiago cheese — a delicious side to seared steak or grilled chicken breast. Or, prepare a more dense “cake” version of polenta by letting the pan cool after cooking. Once it is set firm, slice into squares or strips to serve in place of rolls or garlic bread. Reheat, or for extra flavor, try frying or grilling your polenta before serving.
What’s your favorite way to enjoy polenta?
- Alivia Duran
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