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Something Different For The Holidays: Baked Polenta with Marinara

Looking for something a little different to serve at the holidays? Try this polenta appetizer.

"Polenta? Oh you mean Italian grits." -Unknown

My niece and I got to spend a little quiet time together last weekend before she traveled back to NYC after the Thanksgiving holiday. Before she headed to Logan we stopped into a little Italian joint to enjoy a couple of small plates, salads and some vino.

I chose the roasted vegetable dish (which was amazing) and she chose the baked polenta, something I had never tasted. We ate, drank and were merry...and after a couple of hours she left for the city that never sleeps and auntie managed to score the leftovers.

I mixed those roasted vegetables into a green salad topped with some balsamic dressing--it was divine. It definitely made my "Back-to-the-Office-After-an Extended-Weeknd" Monday less painful. Unfortunately I was not able to get my fork into the polenta again because it was devoured by my boy E. Between bites he even begged me to make it for him. I have to say that he is a joy to feed...he will try most anything, unlike a lot of kids his age.

Anyway, I searched around and found a great recipe that came close to the goodness of the one we had. Though don't you think that sometimes the food tastes better when you are in good company? Perhaps my polenta was almost as tasty as the restaurant version. I'll have to make it again when my niece is back for Christmas and she can decide.

Baked Polenta with Marinara

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  • Marinara (your own or your favorite jar)
  • Extra Parmesan (for topping)
  • Fresh basil, for garnish

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray a 9" square baking dish with cooking spray.
  3. In a large saucepan combine the milk and chicken stock.
  4. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. When it reaches a rolling boil gradually whisk in the cornmeal - make sure there are no lumps.
  5. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring constantly until thick (about 5 minutes.)
  6. Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese.
  7. Pour polenta into baking dish and bake for about 10 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and make sure it is firm-if not, pop it back in for a few more minutes.
  9. When firm, cut into small pieces.
  10. Top with marinara and Parmesan.
  11. Garnish with fresh basil.

Enjoy!

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