Polenta, a food made from boiled cornmeal, and for many years associated with peasantry, has now found its way into gourmet restaurants and recipes. For awhile, I was apprehensive about cooking with polenta, fearing that no matter how many seasonings that were added, it would still maintain a bland flavor. However, upon seeing a beautiful photo of a dish containing polenta and various veggies–some kind of vegetable casserole, I was sold.
Polenta is incredibly versatile, it can be rolled, sliced, mashed, shaped into patties, and even made into fried sticks, similar to french fries. Many cultures use polenta, including many European countries, South American countries, and African and Afro-Cuban communities.
The nutritional benefits of polenta are surprisingly high; polenta is rich in niacin, potassium, riboflavin, protein and is low in fat–sometimes it has no fat at all! Polenta can be purchased in a tube form, that is pre-cooked, that way all that needs to be done is the slicing/dicing/or mashing. Usually it will either be refrigerated and situated near the tofu, or not refrigerated and situated by the pasta. I picked my tube up at Whole Foods by the pasta–and the tube was only $2.99 and yields five servings! (They weren’t lying when they said polenta is “poor people food”–the stuff is cheap!) To conclude my diatribe on the vast benefits of polenta, is a tasty recipe that will have your taste buds wanting more. 🙂
*Tomato Basil Polenta*
What you’ll need:
1/2 tube of pre-made polenta (sliced –since the polenta is already cylindrical, you simply need to slice down and the slices will come out circular) (Also try and pick up the polenta that is tomato basil flavored, or mushroom swiss flavored)
1/3 zucchini cut into small slices
1/2 cup tomato basil pasta sauce
1 italian vegan sausage, cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1/4 cup spinach
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon parmigiana cheese
The polenta can either be simmered on a pan, or simmered in a pot. I only used the pot this time around due to my pan being dirty, either way will work. My directions will be with the pot, if you want to use the pan, just make sure to spray with canola oil spray or add a bit of oil to moisten. Then add all ingredients and simmer until tender.
Cooking with the pot:
Add all ingredients to pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat once boiling and simmer. Once zucchini and spinach are tender, the heat can be turned off. Make sure you are periodically stirring throughout the cooking process–altogether everything should be complete within about ten minutes or so.