If you're looking for something easy, delicious and gluten-free for Meatless Monday, look no further: polenta is your new best friend. This corn-based ingredient is fairly common in most American kitchens, but you may not know some of the many ways it can be used. Check out some of our favorite polenta recipes from across the web.
Polenta is generally served in one of three forms: soft polenta is almost like grits. It is served like a sweet or savory porridge, topped with sauces -- similar to pasta -- or sweet toppings like fruit or nuts. It can also be cooked and then chilled so that it can be sliced and baked or fried. Polenta can also be used to make more elaborate desserts.
First on our list of polenta recipes to try is this tasty polenta pizza recipe. The ingenious use of the cornmeal mush turns pizza into a simple and tasty gluten-free treat. The uniqueness of this recipe means that everyone will be exited to give it a try, not just those following a gluten-free diet. Feel free to vary the toppings according to your mood and market availability.
Image: Kona Gallagher
Polenta is often rich and cheesy, which is fantastic in the winter, but for summer, a lighter version does nicely. These mushroom polenta bites have discs of cornmeal subbing for a more traditional crostini, making them the perfect gluten-free hors d'oeuvre. Be sure to serve them at your next cookout, and watch people swoon. Don't skimp on the comté cheese, which melts beautifully and is strong enough to stand up to even the most flavorful wild mushrooms.
Image: Kimberley Stakal
Our rosemary-blue cheese polenta bites offer similar appeal. In this case, the bites are shallow-fried in olive oil with the seasoning already hidden inside: pungent blue cheese and earthy herbs make these a delicious vegetarian appetizer. A lemon aioli adds just enough freshness to make these perfect for summer, but be sure to keep the recipe on-hand for dinner as well! We bet a piping hot bowl of the polenta would be delicious as-is when you're looking for something to warm you up in a few months!
Don't forget about polenta's presence on dessert plates! This polenta pudding is creamy and sweet, made even more decadent with the addition of a homemade caramel sauce. The pudding itself is flavored with coconut, cherries and raisins and can be served either hot or cold. This summer, we recommend pairing it cold with fresh fruit and ice cream and drizzling the warm caramel sauce over the whole thing!
Top image: Kate Sears