Polenta is one of those magic foods. It’s an incredible easy dish to make, plus it stores well, is inexpensive, can be prepared in advance, adapts to all kinds of flavors and is kid friendly. Oh yeah, and it solves world peace. Just kidding on that last part, although it is a staple food world over.
I use polenta in two ways: as a substitute for cornmeal in corn bread and in a yummy, cheesy, tomato-sauced dish, the recipe for which I share below. I like this recipe because it is best when made in advance, meaning I can even make it the night before serving it, and it has lots of cheese. And who doesn’t like cheese?
Polenta with Tomato Sauce
- dried polenta
- your favorite cheese, grated
- tomato sauce
Cook the polenta according to the directions on the package. You want to have about one cup of cooked polenta per person, so dose your polenta accordingly. You’ll also want to use a big pot, as polenta tends to splatter while cooking.
When the polenta is cooked, but still liquid, toss in your favorite grated cheese. Monterey Jack works nicely, as does cheddar. Or swiss. Or mozzerella. Or any cheese really. Use as little or as much as you like. I use almost a cup per person, but you don’t have to be so greedy or uncalorie conscious.
Then pour the polenta into a buttered baking dish and carefully pour the tomato sauce on top, so that the sauce stays on top of the polenta. Top with some more cheese, but try to be reasonable this time. This is the point at which you can set the dish aside til later to be baked, or you can bake immediately, at 350° for 20 minutes (longer if it’s coming directly from the fridge). Serve with salad or baked chicken. And while it’s a good dish to make in advance, it’s not great as a leftover, so don’t go overboard on how much you make.