I realize there are people that have neither the time nor the inclination to do a lot of cooking from scratch. But there are certain costly foods that are so easy to make, I feel it my duty to encourage (some might say “nag”) you to give it a try.
One such food is polenta. With such an exotic name, you might assume it’s a time-consuming process made from a variety of expensive ingredients. Uh, no. It’s merely cornmeal mush. If you want to be fancy, you can add some spices and maybe throw in a few dried tomatoes. But, basically, it’s boiled cornmeal and salted water. So, before you fork out big money for a tube of polenta (which you’re going to have to heat up) you may as well buy some cornmeal and try cooking it yourself.
I topped my polenta with a quick stir-fry of mushrooms, scallions, and spinach, then spooned on some brown sauce for a delicious, easy meal.
TIME SAVING TIP: As the Queen of Freeze, I suggest you double or even triple the brown sauce recipe and freeze the extra in portion sized containers. One less thing to do in future! (Make sure you like the recipe before you load up your freezer with brown sauce, though.)
POLENTA TOPPED WITH MUSHROOMS & SPINACH
Polenta – serves 2 or 3
- 2/3 cup cornmeal
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 tsp salt
- optional: 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (for a little kick!)
In a saucepan, bring the cornmeal, water, salt, and cayenne to a boil – stirring often. Reduce heat slightly to keep the water at a simmer. Continue stirring until the mixture thickens (about 10 minutes). Add in any extras, such as dried tomatoes, herbs, cheese, etc.
If you want the polenta mushy, serve immediately. But if you want it firm, pour the hot mixture in a container such as a loaf pan lined with waxed paper, smooth top, and refrigerate for several hours. To serve, remove from pan and cut into serving sizes. To heat, you can either fry or broil polenta in butter or oil.
Mushrooms & Spinach Stir-fry – serves 2 or 3
- 9 oz mushrooms, chopped
- 1½ cups spinach, chopped & packed
- 1/2 T butter
- 1/3 cup scallions, sliced
In a skillet, melt butter and add in mushrooms, spinach, and scallions. Sauté for several minutes – until spinach is just wilted.
Brown Sauce – makes 1 cup
- 1 T cornstarch
- 2 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp rice vinegar
- 5 T soy sauce
- 1 cup water
In a small saucepan, combine cornstarch, sugar, vinegar, and soy sauce. Smash any lumps. Turn on heat to medium and add the water. It will be the color of coffee with cream. Stir often (constant is best) and bring to a boil. The color will now be coffee WITHOUT cream, and the sauce will be thickened slightly. Remove from heat.
Place Polenta on plate. Top with Mushrooms & Spinach and ladle on Brown Sauce.