The Basics V: Polenta

Thursday, July 13, 2006

When most of your food budget goes to glorious summer produce, eating well is still easy when you have a few inexpensive essentials on hand: grains such as couscous, rice or barley; cheese or tofu; and some cooked beans in your fridge. For the grains element, a few posts on a Southwestern gluten free blog recently reminded me of polenta's versatility. My first attempts to make polenta managed to be mushy and lumpy at the same time but still tasted great. I also came to appreciate how bright yellow polenta in a cast iron pan helps focus blurry first-thing-in-the-morning eyes and is a great backdrop for black beans or dark red kidney beans and veggies.

This slow cooker recipe helped somewhat with the textural problems. Slow cookers are usually associated with winter but are ideal for cooking in the summer, especially when they can sit outside.

1 part corn meal - I used a medium fine grind
4 parts water
Salt, 1-2 tsp
Slow cooker on low overnight

In the morning, shape polenta into a log or brick and store in the fridge to use as needed within one week.