Meatless Meals: Polenta Two Ways

1.17.2012

After last Sunday's post, I had a few emails requesting the recipe for my polenta lunch. Actually, I've got two meatless meals to share with you today using pre-cooked polenta. I've made polenta from scratch before (when I was feeling really ambitious). Sure, it's great...and pretty high maintenance. When you have less than an hour to make dinner, any shortcut helps. I get pre-cooked packaged polenta from my organic grocer in the pasta section for about $4.
It comes in a roll, and all you have to do is slice it up and add the toppings. If you're thinking to yourself, "I've heard of polenta but have no idea what it is...I'll Google it soon." No need! Essentially, it's corn meal. Doesn't sound too yummy, I know. Actually it's mild but still rich and creamy, taking on the taste of whatever you add to it. Polenta is basically the Italian version of grits. I'm betraying my Southern roots by saying this, but I prefer polenta to grits most of the time.

Recipe # 1: Fried Polenta with Crimini Mushroom Sauce
MUSHROOM SAUCE
1. Wash and rough chop crimini mushrooms (about 1 and 1/2 cups chopped)
2. In sauce pan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add mushrooms and saute 3-4 minutes.
3. Add 1/3 cup of beef broth and 1/3 cup of cream.
4. Sift in 1 tablespoon of flour and stir until it dissolves.
5. Allow to simmer on medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes stirring frequently. Sauce will reduce and thicken.
6. Add salt and pepper to taste.

FRIED POLENTA 
1. Add several tablespoons of olive or grape seed oil in a pan over medium high heat. 
2. Once the oil is hot, add polenta patties. Fry until golden brown on the underside (about 4 minutes).
3. Flip and repeat until both sides are browned.
4. Pour sauce over the fried polenta and serve immediately. 

This is one of my favorite ways to eat mushrooms! The polenta complements them so well. If you're a fellow fungi fan, do yourself a favor and try it. (Please excuse the blatant alliteration; I couldn't help myself.)

Recipe # 2: Veggie Polenta Bake
I forgot to add this very important ingredient to the picture...

Cooking Instructions:
1. Add olive oil to the bottom of a casserole dish and preheat oven to 350.
2. Slice and lay polenta to cover the bottom of the dish. Add a dash of salt.
3. Grate one large or two small zucchini with the course side of a cheese grater. Sprinkle on top of the polenta. (I add squash sometimes too.)
4. Chop onion, peppers, artichokes, olives, and basil. Distribute over zucchini in an even layer. 
4. Add about 1 cup of marinara sauce over the veggies.
5. Cook uncovered for 30 minutes.
5. Remove from oven and add chop mozzarella and grated parmesan cheese.
6. Bake uncovered for an additional 30 minutes.
*Because fresh vegetables were used, there will be excess liquid in the dish. You may want to place casserole dish on a baking pan before cooking in case it bubbles over. 

This is such a great way to get several servings of vegetables in just one meal. You can really add just about any veggie you've got in the fridge. If you've got a favorite polenta dish, I'd love to hear about it.

Working on a fun post that's "beauty" related. This is a first for LC. Hopefully it'll be up this week. Here's to wishing it was Friday.

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17 comments:

  1. Looks delicious. I love how you photograph your ingredients. I pinned both recipes and can't wait to try them.

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  2. Thanks for these two recipies! I bought Polenta for the first time and didn't know how I was going to make it. Now I do!

    The hubs and I are leaning towards a more vegetarian/Meditereanean diet this year.

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  3. YUM!!! I am going to try both of those! I have only had one experience cooking with polenta, and honestly I had no idea what to do with it. I knew there was frying involved, and that's about it. Imagine my family's surprise when they were served unusual brown and yellow circles that really tasted like nothing. Oops.

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  4. I have had a roll of this stuff in my fridge for a while but have no idea of what to do with it, thanks for the insporation they bothe look so good.

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  5. Yum! I bought polenta last week waiting for this post. I love polenta I've never tried them with recipes like this. So excited to try them out.

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  6. I absolutely love polenta! I was vegetarian for years and it became a major staple in my diet. I've made versions of that polenta bake (so good!) but definitely need to try that polenta with crimini sauce!
    Tan
    squirrellyminds.com

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  7. These both look so so good. I had never tried using that polenta before---wasn't sure about it, but I am definitely going to give it a try.

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  8. Love polenta. Love anything with mushrooms. This looks delicious!! New subscriber! Pinning this! I would love it if you would share this at my linky party going on right now :) http://everything-underthemoon.blogspot.com/2012/01/bedazzle-me-monday-16.html

    Have great rest of the week!!

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  9. Thanks for the polenta lovin', ladies! If you come across any other recipes that you've tried, let me know. If you end up having polenta problems (I'm sorry!) let me know if I can help.

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  10. I haven't cooked with polenta yet, but the veggie bake looks to good to pass up! I'll have to def try it out

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  11. Looks delicious! I am honestly swayed into cutting out meat at least once a week!

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  12. Cute blog!... I love polenta, but do the same recipe all the time. These look yummy! Thanks!

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  13. Polenta is such a wonderful thing to have for dinner, love this so much!

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