Posted by: lisetta | September 20, 2008

Polenta with herbs

Woke up this morning choosing to cook homemade treats for Joanna’s Shaad this afternoon rather than ride around on my bicycle. Just as pleasing, in a very different kind of way. I made her six eggs’ worth of tagliatelle fresche, a loaf of challah, and a stack of polenta squares. Who says that women without children don’t contribute to childrearing? 

Polenta is ridiculously simple to make. I consulted Biba Caggiano’s recipe, but unknowingly left out a whole cup of cornmeal! Ha ha. It turned out well anyway, perhaps because of all the herbs I added, so I’ll share my modification here:


Bring 9 cups of water to a boil.

Add one and a half tablespoons of salt and reduce the heat to medium low. Add a handful of finely chopped herbs if you’d like to flavor the polenta – I used thyme and sage from my garden.

Slowly pour in 2 cups of cornmeal, whisking vigorously to avoid lumps. If you get lumps, cheat with a hand blender and remove them. 🙂

(Biba’s recipe calls for 2 cups of coarsely ground cornmeal and 1 cup of finely ground cornmeal, but I had only finely ground on hand. Using a lesser quantity of only finely ground cornmeal gave my polenta a softer and lighter texture, which I prefer.)

Cook the polenta on low heat, stirring frequently (not constantly) for about 25 minutes or so, until the polenta comes away from the sides of the pan. 

Invert the polenta onto a cookie sheet lined with a Silpat mat, spread it out with a wet spatula, and let it cool. Cut it in squares you can then grill, fry or bake. I think I’ll grill mine into mini cheese sandwiches.

This recipe makes 8 servings, which is far more than any single person should have in her house. Joanna got most of it in a giftbox.

I started out thinking I’d make Joanna just some pasta and some homemade pesto so that she could have a quick and easy meal when her baby is born. Instead, I gave her a box full of simple carbs! New mothers need instant energy, right? While everything is freezer-ready, I can’t help but wonder if I should have followed the advice of the other mothers I know and offered a homemade frozen lasagna? While I certainly wouldn’t want to eat a frozen lasagna, sooner or later I have to start recognizing the reality that most people really don’t care.


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