I love cooking…and I actually don’t mind spending the entire day in the kitchen! It’s a stress reliever for me and basically my favourite hobby (next to going to the gym and of course, spending time with my family). Having said that, I DO always look for short cuts in the kitchen!
Take for example, this recipe. Polenta has such a bad rep…and I get it! Who wants to stand next to the stove for 30 minutes whisking it in a pot (that is unless you could use the arm workout!)?
The trick to this easy and QUICK recipe? Instant polenta!
A true Italian might cringe at the thought, but let me tell you…I’ve been in Italy for four months, and believe it or not, they DO use instant polenta!
So there you have it! Not only is this super quick and easy to make, it’s also gluten-free friendly and a perfect comfort food to serve baby (and the family) during those cold autumn days and nights.
For the tomato sauce:
(Yields about 1 cup)
1 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, halved
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 can diced tomatoes (plus liquid)
1/2 cup distilled water
1 tsp. dried oregano
4-5 fresh basil leaves
1/4 tsp. salt and pepper (optional)
1/2 tsp. sugar (optional)
Heat oil in a small saucepan on medium heat for 1 minute then add garlic and sauté for another 2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, reduce heat to low and simmer for 30-35 minutes or until thickened and most of the water has evaporated. Add freshly chopped basil once you turn off the heat and stir to wilt.
(Yields about 2 cups)
1/2 cup instant polenta
2 cups vegetable broth or distilled water
tomato sauce, quantity as desired
1-2 tbs. Parmesan cheese
1 oz soft cheese, such as Laughing Cow or ricotta
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Bring broth to a boil in a medium saucepan (*Although this makes a small amount, using a larger saucepan makes it easier to whisk!)
Once boiling, reduce heat to low then SLOWLY pour in the polenta, whisking at the same time.
Continue to whisk in a circular motion until the polenta thickens and comes off the sides of the pan. *If you do this properly, the polenta should be super-smooth!
Take the pan off the heat, add the cheese, Parmesan, and olive oil…
and tomato sauce, and mix until combined.
Serve immediately! I like to add another drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and an extra sprinkle of Parmesan.
*TIP: Polenta firms up VERY quickly. To soften when reheating simply add some vegetable broth or water (formula, breast milk, or milk of choice for a creamy version), heat, and mash with a fork to get back that creamy consistency.
I set aside half of this for my 9 month old daughter (it made 2 lunches worth) and poured the other half into a flat tray.
Tomorrow I’m making polenta taters for my son!