When was the last time you made polenta?
It’s such a warming comfort food, we’re surprised that we don’t make it more often. And it’s gluten-free*.
So for brunch this weekend, we’re making this yummy recipe from Good Eggs.
Polenta—which is both the Italian word for cornmeal and a cooked dish made from it—has become familiar in America through Italian and Continental restaurants.
But it’s not new to America. For the first two centuries on the continent, American diets contained much cornmeal: in bread, as breakfast porridge, as a side starch, and in other recipes.
Paradoxically, corn, which is native to the Americas, was shipped to Europe, where Italians turned it into polenta.
Back in the Americas, except for the Southern region, cornmeal was gradually replaced in American diets by refined wheat flour (note that while corn is a whole grain, milled polenta is not).
As with oatmeal, you can find instant polenta as well as long-cooking polenta.
You can also take a shortcut with this recipe by purchasing ready-made polenta in a roll form, and cooking slices instead of making porridge-style polenta from scratch.
Ingredients For 3 Servings
1. MAKE the basil butter. In a small bowl, combine the ingredients and beat on medium-low speed until combined. Set aside. (You can make this a few days in advance and wrap tightly in the fridge, until you’re ready to soften it.)
1. BRING 3 cups water and a pinch of salt to a simmer in a small pot.
2. COMBINE in a bowl, 1 cup polenta, 1 cup milk or water, and a pinch of salt. Let it soak. When the water is simmering, whisk in the polenta, along with the soaking liquid. Turn down the heat to low, cover, and simmer until tender, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt. Meanwhile…
3. REMOVE the tops from the tomatoes. Slice the shallot and chop the garlic. Set the basil butter on the counter, and let it come to room temperature.
4. WARM 1 tablespoon olive oil in a nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Add the shallot and sauté until soft, 2 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, 30 seconds. Transfer to a bowl.
5. RETURN the pan to the heat, and add the tomatoes. Sauté until the tomatoes burst, sink down, and start to turn jammy, 10 minutes.
6. RETURN the shallot and garlic to the pan, add 1 tablespoon of the basil butter, and stir until melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to the bowl and set aside and keep warm.
7. WIPE out the pan, return it to the heat, and warm 1 tablespoon olive oil. Crack 3 eggs into the pan and fry until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny, about 3 minutes for sunny-side up.
8. SPOON the polenta into bowls, dollop with the basil butter, and swirl to melt. Add the cherry tomatoes, and slide the fried eggs on top. Sprinkle with the cheese, grind with pepper, and serve.
*Polenta is naturally gluten-free (the only grains that do naturally contain gluten are barley, rye and wheat). Since so many other grains are processed in facilities that also handle these latter grains, however, some varieties of polenta may become contaminated with trace amounts of gluten. Some brands of polenta print “gluten-free” directly onto their product labels for easy identification. Others don’t.
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