Polenta With Vegetables
What is Polenta?
Until I was introduced to vegetarian cooking, I had never tasted polenta, nor did I know anything about it!
Polenta is boiled cornmeal, so it is naturally gluten-free. This is good to know, as I have two family members who do not consume gluten.
Polenta is associated with Northern and Central Italy. It used to be considered a peasant food, as it was inexpensive to prepare and went a long way. But polenta is now featured in gourmet restaurants, and there are many recipes available that use polenta in a variety of ways.
Polenta does take a long time to cook and requires pretty much constant attention while doing so. The ratio of cornmeal to water or milk is about 1:4. It simmers in the liquid for 45 minutes and requires almost constant stirring!
Polenta can be made into a hot porridge or creamy mash or it can be cooled until it solidifies into a loaf that can be baked as a bread substitute or used in cakes and cookies. Solidified polenta can be sliced for grilled or fried patties or it can be used in casseroles or veggie stir fry, among other things!
What I found very appealing and convenient, although a little more costly, is that polenta is available in tubes! Using a tube of polenta made the preparation of this meal easier and much less time consuming.
Nutritional Benefits of Polenta
- Polenta is a good source of protein and fiber.
- It is rich in complex carbohydrates which are broken down slowly and take longer to digest so do not cause a spike in blood sugar.
- It is naturally low in fat.
- It is a source of vitamin A and carotenoids.
- It contains a small amount of essential minerals such as iron, magnesium, and zinc.
- 1 tube Italian herb polenta, cut tube in half and squeeze gently to remove Polenta. Cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 6 small garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 small zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into bite sized pieces
- 7 medium mushrooms, coarsely chopped
- 1 1/2 ounces sun-dried tomatoes, softened in simmerimg water then coarsely chopped. Reserve 2 TBS water
- 2 TBS olive oil
- 10 kalamata olives, cut into thirds
- 1 TBS tomato paste
- 1 tsp anchovy paste
- 1 TBS black olive paste
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 splash balsamic vinegar
- 1 splash marsala cooking wine
- Heat 2 TBS olive oil in large frying pan. Add onion, garlic, mushrooms, Kalamata olives and sun dried tomatoes.
- Add zucchini, polenta, and spices.
- Mix together tomato paste, anchovy paste and black olive paste. Add 1 TBS olive oil and blend well. Add to frying pan and stir contents until well combined.
- Add Marsala cooking wine, Balsamic vinegar and 2 TBS reserved water from simmered sun dried tomatoes. Stir contents of frying pan, cover and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes
- While cooking stir occasionally and add olive oil as needed to keep contents from sticking to frying pan.