Grilled Italian Polenta
I heard a great chef once say, that the world was divided into two great categories: those who are polenta lovers and those who are not. A rather simple way of looking at life, but I suppose it is true. I, for one, am a true polenta lover. Polenta is an absolute staple in Italy. It is a thick corn porridge which is allowed to “set”, making a wonderful bed for various sauces and toppings. Polenta is usually cooked over the stove and continuously stirred until it becomes thick – a time consuming process. This recipe is cooked in a slow cooker, which eliminates the stirring and comes out with a perfect result every time! I pour it into a casserole dish and allow it to cool, then slice it off and fry or grill it, then cover it with this rich Italian mushroom sauce.
2 cups whole grain cornmeal
6 cups boiling vegetable or chicken broth
salt to taste (if using bullion for broth, no salt needed)
TOMATO MUSHROOM SAUCE
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 lb sliced mushrooms
1 medium zuchinni, chopped
1 medium yellow crookneck squash, chopped
1 15 oz.. can chopped black olives
7 ripe roma tomatoes, diced
2 8 oz.. cans tomato sauce
1 tbsp basil
1 tbsp oregano
1 tsp rosemary
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
salt & pepper to taste
PREPARE POLENTA: Spray the walls of a slow cooker crock with non-stick spray and sprinkle in the cornmeal. Add the boiling broth and whisk until lump free. Cook on high for 2-3 hours or on low for 7-9 hours until very thick. Pour and spread into a large bread pan, sprayed with a non-stick spray, and refrigerate until completely cooled and “set.” This may take a few hours.
COOK SAUCE: In a large skillet, heat olive oil and saute garlic for a minute, then add chopped veggies and seasonings and cook, stirring occasionally, until everything is just tender. Add tomato sauce, chopped olives and parmesan. When hot, set aside.
GRILL OR SAUTE POLENTA: Gently turn the loaf pan with the set polenta over. Polenta should plop out easily. Slice into ½” to 1” sections. Grill both sides on a piece of foil until hot or Saute in a bit of olive oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes on each side, or until golden.
FINISH: Place polenta on individual plates and top with tomato mushroom sauce. Sprinkle with extra parmesan.