Eating for Life | Hot or cold, polenta provides a base for savory toppings

01/24/2012 5:00 AM

05/16/2014 6:02 PM

Editor’s note: This column was originally published in The Star’s Fod section on Feb. 21, 2007.

Polenta is a popular staple in northern Italy. Similar to Southern-style grits, polenta is cornmeal that can be cooked and eaten as porridge for breakfast or cooled until firm, sliced into wedges and topped with savory toppings for lunch or dinner.

The Star’s recipe for

Parmesan Polenta With Chunky Italian Vegetables

can be served as a vegetarian main course, a side dish or a starter. Made from pantry and freezer staples, the chunky vegetable topping is an easy, economical way to up your vegetable servings.

The mixture includes artichoke hearts, which contain folate, a B vitamin that prevents birth defects, as well as cholesterol-lowering luteolin and cynarin to prevent fat accumulation in the liver. We chose frozen artichokes over canned because they have less sodium, as well as mushrooms (riboflavin, niacin and vitamin B6), broccoli (beta carotene, calcium, folate and lutein), red peppers (beta carotene, vitamin C and lutein) and tomatoes (beta carotene, vitamin C, lutein and lycopene).

Shopping tip: We

tested the recipe with Bob’s Red Mill brand polenta. Look for 100 percent Stone Ground Whole Grain Cornmeal, medium grind, or Corn Grits “Also Known as Polenta.”

Preparation tips: Depending on the coarseness of the meal, you may need to adjust the cooking time. Cook until meal is thick like oatmeal. The spoon should leave a visible mark as you stir.

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