Miss Rachel’s Pantry: Polenta!

A few recipes back, I made a fried green tomato dish with store-bought polenta. Since then, I’ve learned that making my own is so much tastier and easier on my budget. Polenta (say it “Puh-LENT-uh”) is made from finely ground corn grits or cornmeal. When you make it yourself, you can control the consistency 100%. In making my own, I’ve discovered that I like soft, creamy polenta better than the firmer consistencies you typically find in the tubes at grocery stores.

Polenta is a great side dish and works wonderfully in place of things like mashed potatoes or pasta. It’s inexpensive and so simple to make! I served mine here with grilled seitan (a vegetarian meat substitute made from wheat) and topped it with some stir-fried veggies and fresh basil.

Creamy polenta

You’ll need:
– About 4 cups of water
– About 1.5 cups of corn grits (Bob’s Red Mill is a great brand)
– 2 pinches of salt, plus 1 teaspoon to salt the water
– 2 pinches of pepper
– 1 teaspoon raw sugar or agave nectar (honey or white sugar are okay, too – the grits just need a bit of sweetening up!)
– 1/2 teaspoon fresh crushed garlic
– 1/4 cup grated vegan cheese (optional)

What to do:
Salt the water, bring to a boil and pour in the corn grits, slowly. It’s important that you lower the heat right away to a low flame, and have yourself a long-handled spoon ready. The hot corn grits will begin to bubble and sputter and can do some serious damage to your hands if they get too hot and you get too close. Now with that long spoon, mix often for about 3 minutes to avoid any clumping. Then add in the salt, pepper, sweetener and garlic. Let the grits cook, stirring every other minute or so, for about 20 minutes. Mix in the cheese right before serving, and you’ve got yourself a side dish that’ll feed 4.

* To make a firmer polenta, use one less cup of water. Cook for an additional 10 minutes (for 30 minutes in total), then pour into a wide, shallow dish. Let the hot polenta set for about 20 minutes in the refrigerator. Then, to serve and slice,  put a plate securely on top of the shallow dish and flip gently to transfer.

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Miss Rachel’s Pantry is a vegan personal chef, meal delivery, and catering company in Philadelphia, Pa, making real-deal homestyle food.  To contact her for more information, her blog is:www.missrachelspantry.blogspot.com and her website is: www.missrachelspantry.com

Editors note: We at friendlysuggestions.com are delighted to have Miss Rachel’s Pantry provide these recipes for all of us!  If you can’t make them yourself, do yourselves a favor, those of you in the Philly area, call her to make something for you, and/or have her provide some healthy food for your next party or event.

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