Before we hopped on the vegan bandwagon, I had never had polenta. How?
Once I started eating it, I couldn’t stop. We bought one of those little sausage-looking packages of pre-cooked polenta at Whole Foods and it sat in the pantry for a month. One afternoon, tummy a-grumbling and feeling slightly adventuresome, I cracked that puppy open and did the only thing I had ever seen anyone from the Food Network do with polenta. I sliced it up and fried it in a skillet in a little olive oil.
Oh. Heavenly. Total flavorgasm.
The preconceived notion that homemade polenta is a bicep-challenging endeavor – forever stirring and stirring and stirring – was blown outta the water when I came across a recipe on The Kitchn. It promised perfect polenta without a half-hour upper-arm workout. I loaded up on the polenta (or “corn grits” for you southern folks) from the bulk bin and gave it a shot. And for once, I didn’t fuck something up on the first batch.
As good as polenta is straight out of the pot, as soon as it is cooked, grilling or frying it makes it even better. It creates a crispy, salty crust that is akin to wrapping grits in freshly fried corn tortilla chips…
And now I am salivating.
To fry polenta, it must be cooled after being fully cooked. Polenta is much like plaster of paris; it takes the shape of the container it is cooled in. I make a double batch when I make it. Half gets eaten right away, and the rest gets poured into a square Tupperware container and sits in the fridge (for at least a few hours, but usually a few days later) and gets cubed before it is fried.
I have used the precooked polenta with the very same results, but making it myself is about a quarter of the price. Also, I put more butter in it than the precooked versions have; I can’t help it. And do not skip the garlic salt; seriously, it takes it to a whole ‘nother level. I promise.
Tomato Basil PolentaFor each serving: 1 cup Cooked Polenta – The Kitchn’s Recipe or Premade (Sliced or cubed) 3 Campari Tomatoes – quartered Fresh Basil – finely julienned 1 oz Goat Cheese – crumbled 1 tsp Olive Oil Garlic Salt
Preheat a large skillet on high. Add olive oil and immediately place polenta in the pan. Sprinkle with garlic salt. Cook until crust begins to form; about three minutes. Flip and cook three minutes longer. Remove from heat.
Combine basil and tomatoes (it is also good with a dab of olive oil and balsamic vinegar). Place on top of the polenta and sprinkle with goat cheese.
Now EAT. And then wish you would have made more.