Polenta is a wonderful gluten-free side dish that provides the same rib-sticking satisfaction you get from wheat-based starches, such as pasta or bread. Use it to round out meals of roasted or sautéed meat, poultry, or fish or as a base for a satisfying vegetarian meal topped with either vegetables or poached or fried eggs. You can vary the polenta to your taste with your favorite chopped fresh herbs or grated cheese. If you like, pour the finished polenta into a glass dish, let cool overnight, and then cut into wedges and sauté in olive oil as a crunchy companion to any meal. When serving this with seafood, you may prefer to leave out the cheese.

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Ingredients

  • Gluten-free medium-grind cornmeal (I like Bob’s Red Mill), ½ cup (2.5 oz/80 g)
  • Olive oil, 1 tablespoon
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Parmesan or pecorino romano cheese, 2–4 tablespoons freshly grated (optional)
  • Fresh herbs, 1 tablespoon chopped

Method

  1. Microwave Method
  2. In a medium microwave-safe bowl, mix 2 cups (16 fl oz/500 ml) water, the cornmeal, oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and a generous amount of pepper. Place in the microwave and cook at the high setting for 5 minutes. Stir thoroughly, then return to the microwave and cook at the high setting for 5 more minutes. Stir well. Mix in the cheese, if using, and herbs, adjust the seasoning, and serve right away.
  3. Stove-top Method
  4. In a heavy saucepan, bring cups (20 fl oz/625 ml) water, the oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and a generous amount of pepper to a boil over high heat. Gradually whisk in the cornmeal. Bring the mixture back to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to low and simmer slowly, stirring frequently, until the polenta is thick, about 18 minutes. Mix in the cheese, if using, and herbs, adjust the seasoning, and serve right away.

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