Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Oven Baked Polenta Surprise
Like 99% of all New Yorkers, every day I walk by a corner pizza shop on the way from the subway to my apartment. Regardless of how questionable the establishment is, it’s always tempting to stop in for a slice whether it’s 3 pm or 3 am. On particularly grey, rainy days like yesterday, my cravings for gooey cheese go through the roof. However, on the rare occasion that I do get a slice, I’m often disappointed. The cheese is tasteless, the sprinkled parmesan resembles sand and worst of all, I wake up the next morning with no leftovers. (For anybody that knows me well, I have contemplated calling in sick rather than showing up at work with no lunch.)
This is where Baked Polenta Surprise comes in. It satisfies the exact same craving but it’s tastier and gives me lunch for a few days. I never used to make polenta because like risotto and McCann’s Irish Oatmeal, you have to stir it for way too long. But recently I discovered “An Elegant Gruel: Polenta” on New York Times’ Recipes for Health and now polenta is a fixture.
All you do is mix one cup of corn meal with 4 cups of water and a bit of salt and throw it in the oven at 350. Fifty minutes later you have a nice, firm polenta to form the base for whatever you want to throw on top (i.e. the substitute for the pizza crust).
From here you can use your imagination. I like to cook up fresh tomatoes, garlic and spinach, layer it on the polenta, cover with cheese and bake for a few more minutes. Mushrooms and gorgonzola are a good topping too. I can imagine that sausage, tomatoes and basil would be delicious. Ham and pineapple? Not so much.