There is a fundamental food of Northern Italy that doesn’t usually get much recognition. Defying its humble and obscure past, polenta has now attained a culinary status in gourmet food restaurants attracting a higher-end class of clientele.
The key to the popularity of polenta is its sheer versatility. A vessel for anything, it has spread to every corner of the world, making use of what is locally grown or raised.
Boiled stoneground cornmeal topped with the usual suspects doubles for hot porridge while soft polenta is deemed a replacement for potatoes, rice, pasta or bread during a meal. Leftover polenta can be fried, baked or grilled to develop a nice crust for bruschetta with mushrooms, tomatoes and eggplant toppings or for layering in lasagne instead of noodles.
Prepared polenta may not look appetizing in the grocery store but offers a convenient introduction to this cornmeal concoction. Tote a tube home to experiment with or try your hand at a homemade batch; it’s surprisingly easy to master. Enjoy this tasty staple food while discovering the charm polenta lends to so many dishes!