You can take the girl out of Italy, but you can’t take Italy out of the girl, right? That’s why I can’t totally part ways with this polenta recipe that I started making about ten years ago.
I’d honestly not tried polenta until after I went gluten-free.
It was mentioned in some book or website I read. After following a couple of basic recipes, I made some tweaks and this was the final result.
Though I certainly have a funny relationship with corn (corn on the cob goes RIGHT through me), polenta seems to be okay.
And that’s why I enjoy making it from time to time. It’s a very Italian, naturally gluten free dish that often catches guests off guard since polenta isn’t often made.
If you’re not familiar with polenta, here’s the rundown and how I make it (and use it in recipes)!
What Is Polenta?
Polenta is a porridge made of corn grits that dates back all the way to Christopher Columbus. It comes from Northern Italy.
It has been known as the “poor man’s food” throughout history. My parents even experienced this stigma first-hand when they lived in Bologna, Italy and their good friends refused to make it because of how much they ate it during the war.
Polenta can be generally made either one of two ways.
The first is as a creamy polenta topped with a flavorful sauce like my vegan Spicy Marinara Sauce.
The second is to allow the polenta to cool and harden into denser patties or cakes.
This polenta recipe can be used to make both.
However if you follow this recipe beyond the point of creating a creamy porridge, you will end up with polenta cakes.
There is no wrong way to make polenta… it’s just personal preference.
You can certainly buy polenta pre-made in tubes at the grocery store. Though they’ll do the trick, they sometimes have a bit more of a gummy texture which can be slightly off-putting.
I prefer freshly made polenta to store-bought any day of the week.
What You Need To Know About The Corn Grits
Polenta is not reserved for only lunch or dinner meals. You can easily incorporate it into breakfast if you so choose. It’s quite versatile — like a blank canvas waiting for you to sauce it up!
Before you ask, there is no really great substitute that is corn-free.
I was able to find a millet polenta recipe as well as a cauliflower polenta recipe. I’ve never made either and cannot vouch for their consistency nor taste compared to creamy polenta vs polenta cakes.
I realize that not everyone can tolerate corn, but if you can, this is a nice alternative to gluten-free pasta.
It’s also one of those foods that’s hardy, great in the winter months, and “sticks to your ribs”.
Though corn is naturally gluten free, make sure that the packaging clearly advertises this label. There is a high incidence of gluten contamination in grains due to contamination.
Ultimately this means that you’ll want to avoid polenta from the bulk bin aisle.
Also, I recommend buying organic polenta since corn is one of the big GMO crops. This will help keep GMO’s out of your kitchen!
One thing I learned when I first started making polenta is that there are a lot of “grits” on the market. You have to purchase grits that are specifically for making polenta. They will be made coarser than your traditional grits.
Recipes To Pair With This Herbed Polenta Recipe
There are so many ways to enjoy this polenta recipe! Flavorful sauces are the best way to enjoy polenta from my experience.
My #1 favorite recipe to pair herbed polenta cakes is my Poached Eggs In Marinara With Polenta & Wilted Greens! Though you might think of this as a breakfast dish because of the eggs, you really can make this for any meal.
Other recipe options include: