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.

sausage and peppers

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?

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Tags: chicken sausage, coconut milk, Food, healthy, lentils, peppers, polenta, recipe, turkey, versatile meals

  1. Megan’s avatar

    Love all this comfort food. I can send you a polenta recipe where you just mix polenta, water, salt, and pepper in a baking dish and throw it in the oven. Super easy… and not lumpy. :) I love tomato toppings on polenta.


  2. Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic’s avatar

    Mmmmm polenta is so perfect for the cold weather! I like red sauce on top of polenta, and I also like polenta fries :)


  3. Michelle Collins’s avatar

    I love polenta! I’m a big fan of serving it with sauteed mushrooms and Parmesan, or asparagus and tomato.


  4. Emily @ A Cambridge Story’s avatar

    Polenta is one of those dishes I love getting out to eat (especially when decked with cheese) but rarely make at home. Your version looks so simple and comforting! a MUST for these dark February nights!


  5. Daisy’s avatar

    that was such an amazing night at Lucia! I was actually at NEBO last night and had a phenom masacrpone polenta appetizer with a funghi ragu and shaved parmesan. it was to die for!


  6. Lin @ BeantownEats’s avatar

    I am the exact same as Emily, always enjoy it out but never think to make it at home. Good to know there is a good “quick” version, and the sausage topping sounds awesome!


  7. Colleen @ Culinary Colleen’s avatar

    I love polenta, and this post just made me realize I haven’t cooked polenta all winter. I love it with all sorts of toppings. Last winter, we often made a topping of sauteed chickpeas and kale. So delicious!


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