Monday, March 19, 2012

Meatless Monday, Oven Baked Creamy Polenta

Today's recipe for Meatless Monday is so versatile, it will work with many of your non-meat meals! You can pour soup over it, or a hearty tomato sauce, it would also be wonderful with a saute of your favorite vegetables.

Now, when I say polenta, most people probably think of the stuff that comes in a tube at the grocery store. While that is delicious, this version is different. This version comes out luxuriously creamy, smooth and rich. In my opinion, creamy polenta is highly underrated. Maybe it's because most  preparations require a long time in front of a stove stirring until your arm falls off, because I tell ya, that stuff gets thick! It bubbles at you and threatens to burn you or even splatter in your eye if you're one of the especially unlucky ones. You also run the risk of a lumpy polenta, and no one likes lumpy polenta. Fortunately I came across this recipe a few years ago, and have since spared myself from the stirring-over-the-stove business. It's very inexpensive, and couldn't be any more simple either, you mix everything in a dish, put the lid on and bake stirring half way through. Once it's done, you stir in some milk, butter, herbs and Parmesan then you're ready to enjoy.

This is fantastic served in place of mashed potatoes, but I love to serve it with something that has a lot of sauce (Osso Bucco, Braised Short Ribs, Bolognese) because I like to spoon the sauce over top of the polenta. This is also fantastic with the Ratatoullie recipe I shared a few weeks ago, serve with a salad and you have a well rounded meal! 

Oven Baked Creamy Polenta, Adapted From Martha Stewart
4 1/2 cups water
1 cup + 2T cornmeal
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup + 2T milk
3 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh marjoram (or 1/2 teaspoon dried), can also use oregano
Parmesan Cheese to taste (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In an ovenproof saucepan with a lid, whisk together 3 cups water, cornmeal, salt, and pepper. Cover, and bake 15 minutes then stir. Re-cover and cook 15 more minutes.

Remove from oven, and add milk, butter, and marjoram; whisk briskly until smooth. Add Parmesan if using. Serve immediately.

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