Polenta has its roots in the peasant cuisine of northern Italy dating back to late 17th century; just like pasta, it’s an Italian staple food.
It’s made by grinding corn into a flour, or meal. It has a rich yellow color and a slightly sweet flavor.
Polenta can be cooked to be creamy and thick, or allowed to set in a form and then be sliced. It can be served as a side dish just like pasta, rice or potatoes. It can also be used in place of breadcrumbs to coat meats, vegetables or cheese.
Uncooked polenta makes a delicious addition or a gluten-free alternative to flour in cakes, pastries or biscuits, which tend to be moist and dense with a nice grainy texture.
This recipe combines both animal-based protein in form of lean pork with vegetable-based tofu and broccoli, and makes for a nicely balanced meal both nutritionally and flavor-wise.
Ingredients (yields 6-8 servings)
- 2 cups corn grits (preferably organic)
- 6 cups water
- 1 teaspoon sea-salt
- 4 tablespoon grape seed oil (2 for polenta, 2 for stir-fry)
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon raisins
- 1 teaspoon fresh or dried basil, chopped
- 8oz extra firm tofu (preferably organic), cut into 1 inch pieces
- 2 cutlets of lean pork , sliced into 1 inch pieces
- 2 cups broccoli, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon soy or teriyaki sauce
- 1 teaspoon fresh or dried oregano, chopped
- dash of sea salt and ground pepper (to taste)
- In a deep saucepan bring water and salt to a boil. Gradually stir in corn grits. Reduce heat and simmer gently, stir frequently to prevent sticking. Use a long-handled spoon since mixture pops and bubbles. In about 15 minutes add grape seed oil and more salt (to desired taste) and stir until mixture is very thick, about 30 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in raisins and basil.
- Grease a deep medium bowl with olive oil and spoon polenta into bowl. Allow to set for 10 minutes and invert onto a flat plate.
- In large skillet, add grape seed oil and garlic and saute until soft and lightly golden.
- Add meat, tofu and soy sauce, stir and saute until both turn golden and slightly crisp.
- Add broccoli, stir all ingredients together and cover for 3 minutes to steam broccoli.
- Cut polenta into thick slices and serve hot or warm on a plate or in a bowl with meat-tofu-vegetable mix and gravy poured over sliced polenta. Enjoy!
Polenta is a low carbohydrate food rich in vitamin A and C (one serving of 100g contains 10% RDA for vitamin C and 6% RDA vitamin A) and also contains 152 mg of potassium, 220 mg of phosphorus, and 42 mg of magnesium per serving. Polenta is a good source of the caroteinoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin (with concentration of 1,355 micrograms per 100 grams), and beta-carotene (97 micrograms per 100 grams). Carotenoids found in foods made from milled yellow corn including polenta are easier to digest than those in carrots and spinach. Carotenoids are also fat soluble, which means they are easier to digest if combined with some fat. Their health benefits include cancer and heart disease prevention. Research studies have shown that corn supports the growth of healthy bacteria in our large intestine and can also be transformed by these bacteria into short chain fatty acids (SCFAs). These supply energy for our intestinal cells, which lowers the risk of colon cancer.
A standard serving of polenta (100g) has slightly more protein than a large egg.