Polenta is an Italian staple, made from cornmeal. Unlike processed grains, polenta is loaded with complex carbohydrates that are broken down in our bodies at a slow pace. This means that they keep our blood sugar levels even keel and help us to sustain our energy throughout the day.

You can purchase quick-cooking – and even pre-cooked varieties – of polenta in the store, but making it from scratch is very simple, with no more than some heating and stirring involved. It pairs well with any kind of topping, from a homemade pesto sauce to roasted vegetables. The recipe here is for a puttanesca sauce that has a tomato base, with capers and olives for extra flavor. Feel free to go wild with your favorite

[healthy!] ingredients, however, as polenta is literally a blank slate!

Polenta with Puttanesca Sauce (Serves 2-4)

INGREDIENTS

For the polenta:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter OR olive oil OR coconut oil (depending upon your “fat” of choice—this will flavor the polenta, and give it some creaminess!)

For the sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup black olives (such as Kalamata variety), with pits removed, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, with juices
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

DIRECTIONS

  1. For the polenta: Bring the water to a boil in a large pot. Once the water is boiling, gradually stir in the cornmeal, whisking as you go. You won’t want any “lumps” in the finished product!. Reduce the heat to low, and continue to cook and stir until the cornmeal has thickened; approximately 10-15 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the salt and butter. Serve immediately for a creamy consistency – as seen here – or allow to come to room temperature for a thickened version.
  2. For the sauce: Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes to the pan, and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, and add the olives and capers to the pan, cooking for an additional 2-3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and tomato paste, and bring to a simmer. Continue simmering for at least ten more minutes, or up to 30 minutes if you prefer a chunkier, thicker sauce. Serve the sauce spooned over the polenta.

Have you tried polenta?

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