Grain bowls are trendy these days, but Italians have been on to one in particular — polenta — for centuries. Polenta can refer to the creamy porridge itself, which, traditionally, may contain several grains or starches.
Most Americans, however, are familiar with the kind of golden polenta made with cornmeal. In fact, you’ll often find the bags of the cornmeal itself labeled as polenta, too. The grain takes to just about any topping you can think of. It also can be baked into a casserole, or cooked, cooled and cut into slabs. Here are some ideas from our recipe archives:
Polenta Stuffed With Squash and Mushrooms, above. Vegetarian mains designed to feed a crowd can be hard to come by. Too often we fall back on lasagnas. Instead, try this centerpiece from Food editor Joe Yonan, which pairs hearty winter squash and mushrooms with a no-cook tomato sauce.
Polenta With Balsamic Scallion Greens. I can vouch for the magic of this 30-minute recipe, which transforms fairly humble ingredients into something wow-worthy. Also nice? It lets scallions shine so much more than they would as a thinly sliced garnish.
Polenta With White Beans and Italian Salsa Verde. Here’s a comforting winter dish from our Plant Powered newsletter. Italian salsa verde, bold with parsley, lemon and capers, brings it all together.
Strawberry and Pistachio Olive Oil Cake. Finely ground polenta (try Colavita brand) provides texture and a savory edge to this simple cake. If you don’t want to use out-of-season grocery store strawberries, try cranberries or even your choice of dried fruit.
Braised Collards With Tomato and Chicken Sausage Over Polenta. You’ll love the marriage of textures in this porridge topped with silky greens and tender onions.
Mushroom Polenta Bowl With Greens and Beans. If you’re getting the idea that you can put almost anything you want on polenta, you’re right. Rainbow chard makes the colors pop in this meatless dinner.
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