Thursday, August 21, 2008

Spinach-Parmesan Polenta

I don't know what other stay-at-home women do, but I like to give myself a simple, nutritious lunch. Polenta takes little more time than making a sandwich, and is a yummy, satisfying, warm lunch that is so comforting. Especially in this unseasonably chilly August weather we're having here in Central New York.

It took several tries before I actually starting to like polenta. It's basically mush. Cornmeal mush. That doesn't sound too appetizing, does it? But like any peasant food, it takes some getting used to, and of course finding the right combination of add-ins to make it right for you. This is my favorite.

Spinach-Parmesan Polenta
serves 2

3-1/4 cups water
1 cup spinach (fresh, or frozen & thawed)
generous pinch of two of salt
3/4 cup yellow polenta
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon butter (optional)

A note on salt: I'm usually pretty conservative about salt, but in my opinion, spinach is a very bland vegetable that requires strong seasoning. Use your judgment, but be generous here. An alternative might be to use chicken broth instead of water.

Combine water, spinach and salt in a saucepan set over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil.

While stirring, add cornmeal in a thin, continuous stream. Continue to stir until the polenta starts to pull away from the sides of the pan (about 5 minutes).

Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Serve hot.

If you wish to add some protein, a few grilled shrimp would be delicious here. Personally, I'm enjoying vegetarian lunches lately, so this really hit the spot for me.


Michele said...

This looks yummy.

Have you tried it set hard? A caterer I worked for set it in a sheet pan, cut it into cubes and topped each one with a leaf of basil, a slice of tomato, a slice of fresh mozzarella and then drizzled it with olive oil.

My friend fries the cubes on a grill pan to leave nice stripes:

And I had an awesome wet polenta at an Italian restaurant, covered in sausage and mushroom ragout:

Michele said...

I just realised that if you covered your spinach-parmesan version in mushroom-sausage ragout, one would probably die of pleasure.

Amanda said...

Thanks, Michele. I have had poleta firmed, sliced & fried for a crispy exterior as a crouton replacement. It is nice--though I have yet to try it grilled. That sounds lovely! I bet it would be nice, too, as a sort of bread in a panini--gooey cheese & sliced tomato between.

But underneat a mushroom-sausage ragout sounds simply divine. Now I'll be certain to get some italian sausage next shopping-day!

katiez said...

I've even used it as a base for pizza (fast and easy) I agree, though it can be a bit bland. I usually cook it in chicken stock. Next time I'll add spinach... One can never get enough spinach!

Amanda said...

Katiez, I'm interested in the idea of a polenta pizza crust. Do you make stiff polenta and just pour it into a pizza pan? I imagine it needs to be quite flavorful at the get-go in order to NOT be bland.

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