Polenta Ways

Corn Grits Get a Beauty Treatment

Polenta is a classic Italian cornmeal dish that takes on many forms for meal planning. Polenta can be served in soft stage, semi-hard stage, or in sliceable hard stage.  Hard stage polenta can be grilled, broiled, baked, or sautéed, into a heavenly under dish for stir-fry, bean casseroles and more. What’s not to love?!

Use polenta instead of potatoes, rice, or pasta when the mood strikes. It makes an excellent planned-over for a quick lunch or dinner. I love to dice and use as dumplings in soups and stews.

PolentaChoose a fine cornmeal that still has the corn bran and germ in tact. Locate in health-food stores. My favorite brand is Arrowhead Mills Yellow Corn Grits. It makes polenta in just minutes, instead of the traditional 20-30 minutes.

Make a double batch and store in the fridge for instant meal planning!

I prefer a softer polenta and use 1 cup of dried grits to 4 cups of water. If you prefer you can reduce down to 3 cups for a firmer result. I like all water, but it can also be mixed with some milk or stock if you prefer.

RECIPE Based on Mario Batali recipe

  • water, 4 cups
  • onion, red, 1-1/2 cups, (1 med.), 1/4-inch dice
  • sage, fresh, 10 leaves, minced
  • polenta, 1 cup, Arrowhead Mills yellow grits is good
  • Pecorino cheese, 1 cup grated, or Asiago or Parmesan
  • salt, 2 tsp.
  • pepper, fresh ground, 1/8 tsp.

1 In a medium saucepan add the water, onion and sage and bring to the boil. Note: it is best to have a thick walled pot to protect against scorching. Be mindful and stir on occasion.

Polentag2 Add the polenta in a slow steady stream while constantly stirring until thickened, several minutes. Reduce heat to LOW.

3 Continue to cook on low heat, stirring occasionally until creamy—about 15 minutes.

4 Add the cheese and cook stirring until melted into the dish. Soft polenta will serve like mashed potatoes. Keep warm or serve immediately.

Add cheese and herbs just before serving


Cooled polenta can be cut into squares or cubes and reheated in soups or stews, or grilled and used beneath any type of stew, sauté as the starch under dish. To prepare for this stage pour leftover polenta into a container, flatten and smooth and refrigerate. It will be ready to slice and reuse at your convenience.

Photo by lucasgburgos


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