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Golden yellow polenta, or cornmeal, is the ultimate Italian comfort food, but there's a whole lot more to this versatile grain than simply turning it into a warming side dish. We take a closer look.
The classic hearty and filling winter warmer porridge like polenta originally hails from northern Italy. Left to cool and solidify there's a whole lot more you can do, like baking, frying and grilling, or simply using the fine polenta grains to substitute flour in baking, and of course it's gluten free.
Here are 10 tasty ways to kick up your polenta in everyday cooking, from crunchy coatings to tasty pizzas and cakes to delicious desserts.
How to Cook Polenta
2. Polenta for a Gluten Free Breakfast
Set yourself up for the day with a warming bowl of soft polenta smothered with butter, sugar, cinnamon and drenched in slightly sweetened milk: the once traditional hearty breakfast of many Italian farmers.
3. Polenta in Cakes
Uncooked polenta lends itself easily to baking, adding moistness and density to cakes, although the fineness of the grain will determine any graininess in the mouthfeel.
Amor polenta, is a traditional Italian cake made from polenta which is baked like a sponge cake and often comes sprinkled with chocolate. Food blogger Emiko Davies has her own take on the classic with this pear and polenta cake recipe (pictured below).
Image: Emiko Davies
4. Crunchy Coating
Calamari, chicken, rabbit and potatoes are always irresistible with a light crunchy coating. Try using polenta instead of breadcrumbs or even baking a polenta crust.
5. Polenta Chips
Put some crunch into your polenta by turning them into chips. Try this elegant recipe for salt cod croquettes where polenta chips add the finishing touches to the dish.
6. Polenta Lasagna
Give your lasagna a twist by substituting pasta for leftover polenta . Here's a recipe for a variation on a theme from oh my veggies.
7. Polenta Pizza
If you're going gluten free, you don't have to say farewell to pizza altogther, not when polenta's around. This polenta pizza recipe from the BrownEyedBaker also doubles up nicely as an appetizer or buffet snack.
8. Polenta Bread
Polenta is also a great turned into some hearty gluten free bread. Here's a cornbread with bacon and sweetcorn recipe in which you can substitute polenta.
9. Polenta Stuffing
Not only can polenta be used as a coating, it can also be used as a gluten free stuffing. Add it to a sausage stuffing mix to stuff chicken or turkey,
10. For Dessert
Polenta may seem like it's all about the savoury, but spare a thought for it come dessert time. These tasty banana and polenta desserts baked in rammekins make an ideal and easy supper desert.