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5 Unexpected Ways to Make Your Polenta Better

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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.  

Blueberry Breakfast Polenta

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.

Polenta Facile

3. When in doubt, put an egg on it. If food trends in recent years have taught us anything, it's that most food items -- burgers, stir-fry, pizzas, fried rice -- are only improved by a beautiful, sunny-side-up egg. Polenta is no exception. We especially like it as a base for wilted escarole and olive oil-fried eggs

More: Learn everything you've ever wanted and needed to know about corn. 

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.  

Broiled Polenta Cubes

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. 

Yotam Ottolenghi

Blueberry Almond Breakfast Polenta 

Serves 3 to 4

4 cups milk
3/4 cups quick-cook polenta
1/2 cup almond meal
4 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup honey
1 cup blueberries
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinches of cardamom (up to 1/4 teaspoon)
Crème fraîche or sour cream (optional)

See the full recipe (and save it and print it) here. 

San Pellegrino

This post was brought to you by S.Pellegrino; the dish above was inspired by their Off the Menu culinary experience.

Tags: Polenta, Side, Lists