To me, this Cheesy Broiled Polenta is real comfort food. When I was working in fashion, one January I had to spend 3 weeks overseeing a collection that was being made in a factory near Biella in the foothills of the Alps. At the time, I was a pretty strict vegetarian, and since winter is a very “meaty” time of year in that part of the world, I ended up eating a lot of polenta with cheese. This was no hardship at all, although I did put on quite a few pounds – good to know if you need to keep up your weight during treatment! I love this dish as a side with mushrooms. Try it with our rich Balsamic Sautéed Mushrooms, or with Angelo Garro’s yummy, simple mushrooms.
- In a stockpot, bring the water and salt to a boil. Gradually stir in the polenta and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer and stir the polenta frequently for 10-15 minutes or until the polenta is very thick. Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese.
- Transfer the polenta to a lightly oiled 8-inch round or square baking pan. Top with the peas, if using, and lightly press them down into the polenta. Let cool for at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat the broiler. Broil the polenta for 5 minutes. Let cool slightly then cut into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature.
- 3½ cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup polenta or cornmeal
- ½ cup sharp white Cheddar, 1 tablespoon reserved
- ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons reserved
- 1 cup peas (optional)
Ann's Tips and Tricks
I always use quick-cook polenta. There’s no shame in it and a lot less arm work. You can also eat polenta soft, like porridge. If you want to try it that way, don’t let it sit, just keep stirring until you’re ready to eat it. And you can stir in any melty cheese you like. Fontina and polenta are a classic combo. If you’re on a bland diet, perhaps leave out the peas since they’ll add extra fiber.