Polenta is one of those dishes that I’ve had a few times, enjoyed the dish but have never tried making it myself. What really got me thinking about making this dish was a book signing I went to back in November.
The oh-so-talented (and fascinating) Ina Garten (aka the Barefoot Contessa) came to town with her newest cookbook: Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That?. While waiting for Ina to arrive, my mom, sister, and I were perusing the cookbook ooh-ing and ahh-ing at the recipes and lovely photos.
The one recipe that hasn’t left me since the book signing is her Parmesan Polenta dish. As I said, I’ve always wanted to try my hand at cooking polenta, and Ina’s recipes are consistently so great that I was inspired to add this to my culinary journey and see what I could come up with.
I was going to just make Ina’s recipe in the cookbook, but as I was checking the Food Network site to see if there was a link for it, I stumbled across a fascinating polenta recipe that was also by Ina and I had to try it out.
Polenta Dish #1: Grilled Rosemary Polenta Recipe
Full of great flavors and easy to throw together, this recipe is a complete winner. Between the rosemary, crushed red pepper flakes, and parmesan cheese, I had no choice but to conclude that this dish would be completely amazing…I was SO right!
What is cool about this recipe is that you make the polenta, and then refrigerate it until it firms up. Once firm, the polenta is cut up, floured, and essentially you grill it to get a crispy crust. Not only will it have a crispy outside, but the inside is light, fluffy, and oh-so tasty. I found that the tricky part was grilling the polenta without the crust sliding off. My recommendation is to cook them in batches (no more than 5 pieces in the pan at a time) and slowly, carefully flip the polenta over (you may need to use both hands to coax it a bit).
I’m not exaggerating when I say that with nearly every bite, I said out loud: “Oh my gosh, this is so good!” Seriously, I did. The great flavor combinations and the varying textures made this dish a joy to devour. Please do you, your family, and friends a favor and give this recipe a go. It will be worth it!
Polenta Dish #2: Creamy Rosemary Polenta
For my second polenta attempt, I wanted to make a nice, creamy polenta. For this, I served it with an oven-fried chicken parmesan, which is a Cooking Light recipe that you can find here. Cooking Light recommended making a basic polenta by bringing 2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth and 1 cup 2% milk to a boil in a medium saucepan. Then gradually whisk in ¾ cup instant dry polenta. Cook 5 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly. So easy!
But I wanted to spice things up, and decided to make Ina’s recipe above but this time serve it as a creamy dish, rather than firmed up and fried. I served it with a spicy jarred pasta sauce and a quick salad that was also a Cooking Light recipe. If you click here, it will take you to the Cooking Light page that inspired this dish, complete with the recipes for the salad, chicken, and basic polenta. Words really can’t describe how fabulous this meal was…wow!
Click here for the recipe and step by step instructions of making this polenta and choose your own adventure…will it be grilled or creamy?! Either way, I predict it will be delightful!