Creamy Herbed Polenta

by Jenn on June 22, 2009

in Gluten Free,Pastas and Grains,Photography,Vegetarian

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I have noticed that a lot of people tend to shy away from polenta, because often they claim it is served in a “bland” and “boring” way they say.  Typically polenta has a rather subtle flavor, and that’s because it’s usually an accompaniment to the central dish of the meal.  However, if you want polenta to be the star of your meal, this dish will not disappoint!  I was inspired by the creamy polenta recipe from Stonyfield Farm’s site, which used homemade yogurt cheese.  Packed with lots of herbs and flavor, this polenta has a melt in your mouth texture that won’t leave you wondering where the flavor went.

Ingredients (to serve 4):
16 oz. plain yogurt (I used lowfat plain)
1 cup coarse  grind corn meal (sometimes you can find in the store specific polenta size)
5 cups of broth (I did 50/50 stock/water to make my broth)
1 tbs EVOO
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup dried herbs – Yes, that much! I did half basil, and the other half italian herbs
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped (get the kind packed in oil)
2 tbs. butter, in small pieces
1 cup grated cheese – I used gouda
fresh arugula, some grated cheese, and sundried tomatoes for garnish

Directions:
1.  Start the yogurt cheese – this process was very similar to draining the ricotta for ricotta gnocchi that I made a little over a month ago, but took a lot less time.  The recipe said to do this for 3-6 hrs, I actually only did it for 1 hr cause I’m lazy, haha.  Basically all you do is layer some cheese cloth a lot of times and pour the yogurt it, then strain it.  To do this I tie it to a wooden spoon and prop that over a large bowl so that the whey can drain.
2. Next comes making the polenta.  Add broth, EVOO, salt, pepper, dried herbs and corn meal to a pan, and bring to a boil.  Stir so it doesn’t stick together too much.   You will notice it start to thicken, about 10 minutes or so.
3. After that, turn the heat down to medium (so it’s still simmering), stirring frequently, until the polenta becomes very thick (more than a soup), I like it to get to a bit thicker than a “grits” consistency.  The recipe states that this takes about 20 minutes, but I think my corn meal was a bit coarser grind than it should’ve been, because this took me about twice as long.
4. Once done, pull off the heat, and add in your yogurt cheese, butter, and cheese.
5. Garnish with some fresh arugula, sundried tomatoes, and more cheese.

I really liked adding the arugula here, the little spiciness really goes well with the polenta.  And of course I am in love with sun-dried tomatoes too!

And ….this is my first food pic on my DSLR (and shooting in RAW)!  My macro lens hasn’t come in yet, so I have been learning how to use my current lens (designed more for all purpose and landscape photog.) in the low lighting conditions that it does not like, with a minimum f-stop of 3.5.  The biggest thing was having to move my camera WAY back from my subject, and utilize the long focal length rather than trying to be up close and personal.  Not bad for my 1st DSLR food pic!