Before we made this recipe, we didn’t understand the appeal of polenta. It’s corn slop. It looks like corn slop, smells like corn slop and tastes like corn slop. Or it did—until we made this polenta. It turns out that if you add enough butter and cheese to polenta and top it with delicious vegetables and such, it loses its corn slop-iness and becomes a wonderful, warm, delicate, flavorful comfort food.
(Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated)
7 ½ cups water
pinch baking soda
1 ½ cups cornmeal
2 tbsp unsalted butter
4 oz. grated parmesan cheese
3 tbsp EVOO
6 garlic cloves, minced
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
½ cup drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
¼ cup chicken broth
3 tbsp. pine nuts, toasted
1. Bring water to boil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Stir in baking soda.
2. Pour cornmeal into water in a steady stream, stirring constantly while you pour.
3. Keep on stirring until the mixture comes to a boil and then reduce heat to low and cover for 5 minutes.
4. Uncover. Scrape down the sides and stir until the polenta is smooth. Cover it up again and cook for 25 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, heat EVOO, garlic, red pepper flakes and sun-dried tomatoes in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Stir frequently and cook until garlic is fragrant and slightly browned, 1 ½ minutes.
6. Add asparagus and chicken broth to the sun-dried tomato mixture. Cover and cook until the asparagus turns bright green, about 2 minutes.
7. Uncover the asparagus mixture and cook, stirring, until most of the broth has evaporated and the asparagus is tender, but firm (2-3 minutes).
8. Remove the polenta from the heat and stir in butter and parmesan. Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.
9. Spoon polenta into bowls and top each serving with the asparagus and sun-dried tomato mixture. Sprinkle each serving with toasted pine nuts.