Meatless Monday: Warming Soft Polenta for Any Meal

This entry was posted on Dec 19, 2016 by Charlotte Bell.

meatless mondayAs the holidays approach, two things are likely: Temperatures are dropping, and you’re probably crazy busy.

I love to spend an hour or two on a warming winter meal, but especially at this time of year, it’s not always an option. Soft polenta is a go-to for me when I don’t have a lot of time, but I want to eat something warming and soothing.

You can dress up soft polenta in lots of different ways. Here are a few ideas: Add chopped, mixed, cooked greens; add a variety of steamed or sautéed veggies; throw in some simple, sautéed tofu or tempeh and veggies; top with a spicy tomato sauce and some shredded cheese, or add kalamata olives and pesto. You can top with any of the above with a poached egg.

Since I have homemade kale and basil pesto in my freezer, I chose to make a super simple soft polenta meal for breakfast. In addition, I threw in some of the last of my garden tomatoes that have been ripening in a brown paper bag in a kitchen cabinet. The result is light but warm, a perfect breakfast that won’t weigh me down.

If you make a batch of the size suggested below, you will have some polenta left over. As it sits, polenta tends to become firmer. Put your leftovers into a small pie dish, let it solidify, and cut into wedges when you’re ready to use it.

Meatless Monday: Soft Polenta

  • 1 cup coarse cornmeal or polenta
  • 5 cups water (use 4 cups if you want a more solid polenta)
  • 1 t salt
  • 1-2 T unsalted butter
  1. Bring the water to a boil in a 3- to 4-quart sauce pan.
  2. When the water is boiling, whisk gently as you slowly pour the polenta into the boiling water.
  3. Turn the heat to low. Continue whisking until the polenta has thickened and doesn’t settle onto the bottom of the pot when you quit stirring.
  4. Place a lid on the pot. Every 10 minutes or so, stir vigorously, scraping the polenta off the bottom and sides of the pot.
  5. After about 30 minutes, your polenta may be ready to serve. If you’d like it to be thicker, you can let it cook another 10 minutes. Remember that it will solidify once you take it off the heat.
  6. Turn off the heat (either after 30 or 40 minutes), and stir in the butter. Serve with any of the above choices.
About Charlotte Bell
Charlotte Bell discovered yoga in 1982 and began teaching in 1986. Charlotte is the author of Mindful Yoga, Mindful Life: A Guide for Everyday Practice and Yoga for Meditators, both published by Rodmell Press. Her third book is titled Hip-Healthy Asana: The Yoga Practitioner’s Guide to Protecting the Hips and Avoiding SI Joint Pain (Shambhala Publications). She writes a monthly column for CATALYST Magazine and serves as editor for Yoga U Online. Charlotte is a founding board member for GreenTREE Yoga, a non-profit that brings yoga to underserved populations. A lifelong musician, Charlotte plays oboe and English horn in the Salt Lake Symphony and folk sextet Red Rock Rondo, whose DVD won two Emmy awards in 2010.