This post was brought to you by our friends at S.Pellegrino, who are as passionate about celebrating fine food as we are.
Polenta, sometimes referred to as "Italian grits," most often serves as a trusty sidekick to spotlight-stealing protein, or sits smothered under tomato sauce and cheese. Make no mistake -- it's delicious in both contexts, but this classic cornmeal dish is far more versatile than tradition suggests. Here are our five favorite ways to give polenta a long-overdue chance to shine.
1. Sweeten it with fruit and honey. Start your day with this just-sweet-enough breakfast polenta recipe, studded with fresh summer blueberries and drizzled with honey. (Your oatmeal will be jealous.) Take sweet even further by using polenta in cookies or a cake. Or, you know, have more breakfast polenta after dinner.
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2. Fortify your base. Polenta is usually made with water or milk, which results in a more neutral flavor. Next time you make it, try using a liquid with a little more personality: stock, either vegetable or otherwise, and coconut milk will both add depth to the final dish.
4. Square things off. Polenta's texture stands up well to grilling, griddling, or broiling, especially when you make it into beautifully cut squares (or circles). Bonus points for super-crispy edges; extra bonus points for topping them with a savory sun-dried tomato and walnut tapenade.
5. Use fresh corn. It's corn season, after all, and your farmers market haul is begging to be turned into creamy, delicious polenta. If that's not enough of an incentive, this amazing recipe from Yottam Ottolenghi should be.
I'm a former Food52 Julia Child Food Writing Fellow now studying law so I can make food fairer, more delicious, and more sustainable for everyone. I was born and raised in Montreal (mostly on poutine and matzoh ball soup), but in my heart I am an Italian grandma—I live on pizza and make a mean eggplant parmesan.