Shortly after my sister and niece were diagnosed with Celiac, they took a trip to visit family. Dan, sister’s brother-in-law, was in charge of getting groceries. Not being a foodie himself and also completely out of his comfort zone with the new food restriction, Dan sought to cover his bases by buying pretty much everything he came across which bore the label “gluten-free.” The result was a random and motley assortment of gluten-free products. One such item was polenta. My sister later related to me, "I've never had polenta before. I had no clue 1) what to do with it and 2) if my kids would even eat it."
I thought of this story today as we fixed “baked cheese polenta with corn and green chilies.” Last week we had “rosemary lentils over polenta”. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed both of them. Polenta has moved from a “once in a blue moon” ingredient to a more prominent place in the weekly menu plan. It has the advantage of being both easy to prepare and naturally gluten-free. These recipes also fit the bill of being vegetarian. I am always on the lookout for tasty new vegetarian recipes--bonus if they also include beans/lentils.
Rosemary Lentils with Polenta
I wasn’t sure how I was going to like the combination. However, the creamy polenta really complemented the meatiness of the lentils. It is also really good topped with some grated Parmesan. Because, everything is better with cheese.
Baked Cheese Polenta with Corn and Green Chilies
from Vegetarian Classics
1 4oz can chopped green chilies, drained
1 ½ C frozen corn, thawed
1 ½ C grated Pepper Jack
½ C sour cream
2 C milk
1 ½ C water
1 C cornmeal/polenta
3 garlic cloves, minced
¾ t salt
fresh ground black pepper to taste
⅓ C grated Parmesan cheese.
In a 3-quart saucepan, whisk together milk, water, cornmeal, garlic, salt, and pepper. Bring to boil over medium heat, whisking continuously. Cook the polenta until thickened like soft mashed potatoes, about 7 minutes. Whisk in Parmesan.
Pour half of the polenta in a greased 2 ½ quart casserole dish. Spread evenly. Spread on all of the sour cream. Sprinkle on half of the chilies, half of the corn, and half of the pepper jack cheese. Quickly pour on the remaining polenta and spread evenly. Sprinkle the remaining chilies, corn, and pepper jack. Let sit 20 minutes before baking.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake 25-30 minutes or until the polenta is sizzling and golden on top. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.