The versatility of polenta is endless and why it ends up in so many of my dishes. Made creamy and soft, it’s a wonderful side to meat or fish, swirling in different herbs, cheeses or veggies to compliment the dish, or as a “pasta” base for topping ratatouille. Made firm, polenta can be easily substituted for bread and as an appetizer crostini topped with a tapenade.
I really do keep a simple pantry. My condiments are fairly basic and I can be creative with a variety of oils, vinegars, herbs, salts and spices. In other posts it may have appeared that “you name it, I have it”, but no, not so! It’s like gadgets in the kitchen; I keep those to a bare minimum! Because I cook fairly Mediterranean style my pantry holds just that. I always keep cornmeal in bulk (no, not an overload, but just enough) for polenta, or as a thickener for soups or stews and in breading and baking.
Preparing the polenta the day before and grilling the next day, I served a light dinner of Italian sausages with peppers and onions, pared with the grilled polenta. Easy and yummy!
Grilled Polenta with Zucchini and Goat Cheese
3 cups boiling water (or water and chicken or veggie broth), adding additional liquid as needed
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup polenta or yellow cornmeal
1 zucchini, grated and squeezed dry
2 oz goat cheese
Olive oil for grilling
To prepare the polenta: Simmer water in the bottom pan of a double boiler. Add 3 cups boiling water to the top pan. If not using the double boiler, use a large saucepan bring the 3 cups of liquid to a boil. Add the salt and slowly whisk in the polenta, pouring the polenta like “rain” to prevent any clumping. Reduce to low and continue to cook and, switching to a wooden spoon, stir occasionally on a double boiler, more frequently in a saucepan for about 45 minutes. The polenta should be soft and creamy, pulling away from the bottom. If the polenta appears to cook too fast or less creamy, add in small amounts of hot water or broth.
Meanwhile, sauté the shredded zucchini in a heated skillet with olive oil until lightly cooked. Remove from heat and set aside. When the polenta is done, stir in the sautéed zucchini and goat cheese. Pour into a greased 13 x 9 pan, spreading evenly, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours or overnight.
To grill the polenta: Heat a clean grill or indoor grill pan, lightly brushing with oil. Cut the polenta into squares or desired shapes and lightly brush with oil to prevent sticking. Grill until light marks appear, turn and grill other side. Plate and serve!