After feeling like I hit a culinary wall of non-creativity (why is it that we always go back to the same old same old after a while??), I went a huntin’ in the great abbyss that is my pantry. My prey? Turned out to be a big fat zippy filled with cornmeal. Enter… inspiration! I’ve made both the store bought and homemade kinds before, but I wanted to jazz this lil diddy up, so I made this into fingers. Cooled ’em, cute ’em, grilled ’em, then smothered ’em in sauce. Outcome? A brilliantly cheap, quick, hearty and luscious winter-time meal. Bonus was the totally gluten-free day I had! Woot!
For the polenta –
4 cups water
3 1/2 cups of milk
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp butter (I used unsalted)
For the sauce –
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups fresh green beans, trimmed and chopped into 1 inch pieces
2 cups diced canned tomatoes
1 tsp EACH dried parsley and dried basil
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Bring water and milk to a boil in a medium pot, then turn down to a simmer – watching closely so you don’t burn the milk.
2. Add cornmeal into pot in a slow stream, stirring, then add dried basil and salt, and continuing to whisk for about 2-3 minutes.
3. Continue to simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes more – polenta will be gloppy and stiff, but try to keep stirring so the bottom does not burn, then remove from heat.
4. Mix in Parmesan cheese and butter, then plop into a greased 9×11 baking dish and cool for at least 30 minutes until completely solid.
5. While polenta is solidifying, in a large skillet heat oil over medium heat, and saute onions until translucent, then add in garlic and cook until garlic is fragrant and slighly browned (about 1-2 minute).
6. Add canned tomatoes and dried spices (and salt and pepper to taste), simmer for 5-7 minutes, then add in diced green beans and cook until tender – about another 5 min (simmer sauce on low until ready to use).
7. Slice soild polenta into fingers, remove fro baking dish, and grill in a grill pan until heated and slightly browned (you could also broil in the oven, turning so all sides are browned).
8. Place grilled polenta fingers on a plate, and cover with sauce – sprinkle with parmessean and serve HOT!