Remember that heavenly polenta dinner that I attended in the North End last year? It was on an incredibly cold night, and warm welcomes and hot boards of polenta, along with lots of laughs, good friends by my side, and restaurant family stories made it simply magical.
Polenta is the perfect comfort food, a canvas for all sorts of flavors and ingredients, and my only wish that night was that I could make polenta as creamy and lump-free as the polenta at Lucia.
Well, it’s not quite the same, but I have found a way to make polenta that we love right at home. The secret is Pastene instant polenta. Instant polenta? I kind of assumed it would be lumpy and not great just due to its instant nature. I couldn’t have been more wrong; with boiling water it cooks in minutes and barely requires stirring. It’s the easiest way to start a comforting dinner on a busy weeknight or a slow-cooked sauce and polenta on a Sunday afternoon.
We’ve been eating a lot of polenta, and it’s been fun to experiment with the toppings. One Sunday night, I made a turkey meat sauce, health factor amped up with red lentils, made creamy with coconut cream and spicy with hot paprika. The coconut cream might sound a bit weird, but it just worked. It’s definitely a new favorite Trader Joe’s product.
Another favorite polenta dinner included a spicy chicken sausage and peppers sauce made with caramelized onions, sweet and hot peppers, arrabiata sauce, and some corn thrown in, because while we did a great job snack shopping before Nemo, we kind of forgot groceries for the week. As a result, we’re cleaning out the cupboards and freezer. It’s been kind of fun using things up and getting creative, but I definitely look forward to a fully-stocked fridge and a meal plan again.
There doesn’t seem to be an end to dreary weather in sight, so I think polenta is here to stay. I’d like to make a creamy mushroom sauce soon, maybe with some tofu snuck in to add nutrition and protein.
Are you a polenta fan? Any suggestions for what fun toppings to add?