Basic Homemade Polenta

>> Monday, April 12, 2010

Polenta is another one of those foods (much like seitan) we file under the "Stephen Specialty" category. For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of biting into this treat, polenta is made from ground cornmeal, which is boiled in water and ultimately creates a grits-like porridge. When you refrigerate it, it hardens, and you can then use it in a variety of dishes -- including as a substitute for pizza crust! -- but we like it best lightly fried and in stir-fry.

Polenta is most typically made with a medium- or coarsely-ground cornmeal. So, if you plan to make this dish yourself, walk past the finely-ground varieties. Though the fine stuff can indeed be used to make polenta, its texture is off and its flavor suffers.


What you'll need . . .
  • 1 cup soy milk (or other substitute)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup medium- or coarsely-ground cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • Pinch of salt and pepper

Method . . .
  1. In a medium pot, stir together water and milk substitute. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  2. When you reach a boil, whisk in cornmeal. Bring heat down to a simmer. And stir until the mixture thickens (about 5 minutes).
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in nutritional yeast. Add the salt and pepper. Stir.
  4. Pour polenta onto a large plate or into a baking dish. Transfer to the refrigerator and let sit for 1 hour, until hardened.

To make the dish you see above, we simply made the polenta and then in a separate pan, took some slices onion and cooked it in a bit of olive oil over medium-high heat until glassy. Then we added a bunch of baby bok choy and set aside once all warmed. In another pan we lightly fried squares of the polenta until golden brown. Then put everything in the pan together and tossed with a mixture of balsamic vinegar and agave (or honey just to sweeten a bit). Added slices of avocado. And, really, that's all. The combinations are endless!

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