This is Italian comfort food at its best. The herbs and cheeses make this dish, but feel free to play around with other cheeses: cheddar and Asiago are fantastic, and Stilton gives the polenta a tang (but may not be kid-friendly). Polenta is a wonderful alternative to mashed potatoes, and it is sublime topped with The Best Roasted Ratatouille (page 112) or Grilled Vegetables (page 108). Scroll down for instructions to make polenta cakes. Serve the cakes with grilled meat, poultry or seafood.
Protein: 7 g; Carbohydrates: 21 g; Fat: 4 g; Fiber: 1 g; Sodium: 602 mg; Carb Choices: 1½; Diabetic Exchange: 1 Starch, 1 Very Lean Meat, 1 Fat
Walk: 36 minutes; Jog: 17 minutes
Walk: 30 minutes; Jog: 14 minutes
4 cups (1 liter) low-sodium fat-free stock
1 cup (250 ml) 2% milk, or to desired consistency
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (170 g) polenta (not instant)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
¼ cup (20 g) grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup (30 g) grated Swiss cheese
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Combine the stock, milk and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the polenta in a thin stream, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Stir in the thyme and rosemary, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring often, for 15 minutes, or until the polenta pulls away from the sides of the pan and is no longer gritty. The polenta should have a creamy texture, much like farina. If it is too thick, thin it with a bit more milk.
Add all of the remaining ingredients, mix well, and adjust the seasoning. Serve hot.
To make round or triangular polenta cakes:
Instead of serving after step 2 above, divide the warm cooked polenta evenly among 6 lightly greased cupcake cups or 4- or 6-ounce (60 or 80 ml) ramekins. Cover and refrigerate until firm. Or spread the cooked polenta in a greased 9-inch (23 cm) square baking pan, cover and refrigerate. The polenta can be covered and refrigerated for up to 12 hours.
To unmold and reheat, slip the polenta out of the muffin cups or ramekins. Or if you used a baking pan, unmold the polenta and cut it into 3-inch (8 cm) squares, then cut each square into 2 triangles. Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. The skillet must be hot to form a crust on the polenta, or the cheese will start to melt before the crust forms and the cakes will fall apart. Add the polenta cakes and cook until golden, about 2 minutes, then flip and cook the other side until golden, about 2 minutes longer. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until heated through. Serve hot.
Recipe from "The Calories In, Calories Out Cookbook: 200 Everyday Recipes That Take the Guesswork Out of Counting Calories — Plus , the Exercise It Takes to Burn Them Off," copyright © Catherine Jones and Elaine Trujillo, 2014. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold.