Polenta Ways

Grits Gets a Beauty Treatment

Polenta is a classic Italian cornmeal dish that takes on many forms for meal planning. It can be served in soft stage, semi-hard stage, or in sliceable hard stage.  Hard stage polenta can then be grilled, broiled, baked, or sautéed, into a heavenly under dish for later in the week. I even use small cubes in soups as dumplings!

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.

I prefer a softer polenta and use 1 cup of dried cornmeal to 4 cups of water or reduce 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
  • salt, 2 tsp.
  • pepper, fresh ground, 1/8 tsp.
  • Pecorino cheese, 1 cup grated, or Asiago or Parmesan


  1. In a medium saucepan add the water, onion and sage and bring to the boil.
  2.  Stir the pot while adding the polenta in a slow steady stream until slightly thickened, several minutes. Reduce heat to LOW.
  3. Continue to cook on low heat, stirring occasionally until creamy—about 20-25 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.
Baked Polenta
Great alternative to potatoes or rice

ALTERNATE COOKING METHOD: I found a way to bake polenta so save active stove time. Preheat oven to 350º. After step 2 pour the contents into an oiled 9 x 9 pan and seal with foil. Bake for 40 minutes, then remove foil and stir in half the cheese. Recover with foil and let sit on counter for 10 minutes more. When ready to serve, sprinkle on the remaining cheese and chopped, fresh herbs – like parsley or chives.



Cooled polenta can be cut into squares or cubes and reheated in soups or stews, or grilled and used beneath any type of stew. To prepare as a planned-over scrape polenta into a container, flatten and smooth with a spatula and refrigerate.



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