Sunday, August 22, 2010

Italian Flag Polenta

I have cooked with polenta twice now. I generally enjoy it.

When I told a friend that I was going to make a polenta dish, she asked me what polenta was.

I couldn't tell her.

But, no worries, I've thoroughly researched it (via wikipedia) and found out...

it's boiled cornmeal. Yep. That's it. It used to be more of a peasant meal in Italy back in the day (aka 1800s-ish). Now you can find it in fancier form at high end restaurants. Or in your local grocer for around $4.00. (It's usually in the produce area by the herbs. At least, that's where I usually find it.)

This is a very simple meal.

Ingredients: 2 (10 oz.) boxes frozen chopped spinach; 2 (8 oz.) jars tomato sauce; 1 lb . log polenta, cut into 12-15 slices; 1 C. shredded mozzarella cheese; 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Preheat oven to 375.

Cook the spinach as directed on the box. I chose to do it over the stove, but you can microwave it too.
I put both bags in the pot. Do it, they both totally cooked. :)
Here's the polenta.
Slice it up.
Now, take a 9x13 dish and spray it with cooking spray. Then take one of the jars of tomato sauce and pour it into the dish.
Spread it evenly.
Take the polenta and place it in the sauce in a single layer. I needed 15 slices to make it even.
Take the cooked spinach and squeeze all the water out of it.
Then spread it all evenly over the polenta. (Isn't it pretty?!)
Take one cup of mozzarella
and sprinkle it over the spinach.
Take that last jar of tomato sauce and pour it over the cheese.
Then drizzle some olive oil over the entire dish. (About 1 Tbsp. worth)
Take it and put it in the oven for 15 minutes.
And serve! I find this a beautiful dish. I love the colors.
The thing about polenta is that it can be very bland. It's up to the ingredients around the polenta to put flavor in the dish. I liked the cooked spinach, cheese and tomato sauce with the polenta. Evan (not a tomato fan) wished for marinara sauce as a substitute. He also would have liked to have had a garlic flavored polenta (which they totally sell, and which I think he's right about). Elisabeth wanted to know why it was mushy. I told her it was boiled cornmeal. She stared at me like I had 12 eyes.

I will make this again and go with Evan's suggestions. But for a very light, simple meal, I really liked this. However, it doesn't reheat well, so you might want to eat it all the night you make it.

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