Pennies for Polenta

Polenta Primavera

Growing up I  remember my father not liking only certain meal my mom would make. That one  meals was polenta with spaghetti sauce. It wasn’t that my mom was a bad cook; on the contrary, she was a phenomenal cook. Whatever she tried always came out like it was supposed to. But no matter how she made polenta, my father refused to eat it. It wasn’t until after later in life when my cousin invited us all over for dinner where we learned the real reason why my father never liked polenta. Polenta was and still is a cheap meal to make, and people who went through Great Depression, like my father did, ate this cheap filler meal quite often. So when we all sat down at the table in my cousin’s house he was startled when he was served such a cheap meal, which he did his best not to eat.

Corn meal

Fast forward almost thirty years and now Polenta is considered a great mainstay at the dinner table. If you buy it prepackaged, it comes in different flavors like basil and sun dried tomato. I still have trouble understanding why people would pay anywhere from $1.99 to $3 for a prepackaged tube of polenta when it costs pennies to make.  The same amount can be made with a cup of corn meal, water, salt and some cheap seasonings. I also think it is interesting how something that was a cheap filler meal has become a menu item in restaurants. From Great Depression staple to $10 price tag in a restaurant or pennies in my own kitchen. I opt for pennies in my kitchen. You will too after you taste the subtle flavors of spring vegetables and herbs on top.

Corn mixed with water and salt cooking on stove

Polenta poured into oiled casserole dish

Primavera Polenta

Serves 4

  • 1 cup polenta cornmeal
  • 4 cups water
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Bring the water to a boil, while stirring with wire whisk add polenta. Turn down heat, continue stirring, and simmer till desired thickened consistency. I like it thick so I cook it between 20 and 30 minutes. *This step can be eliminated if using already cooked polenta.*

Pour polenta into a sprayed glass baking dish. Allow to cool.

Primavera Topping

  •  1 Tablespoon Coconut or Olive oil
  • 1 zucchini, sliced in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 1 red pepper, small diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, shredded
  • 2 carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 12-ounce package frozen peas
  • 1 teaspoon tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • Nutritional yeast to taste or Daiya Mozzarella Style Shreds
  1. Heat coconut oil in large skillet. Add onion, carrots, garlic, red pepper, zucchini, and sauté for 5 minutes until onion is translucent and veggies are heated. Add tarragon, basil, salt, and pepper, and vinegar.
  2. When cooled to room temp, spoon polenta into serving bowls.Top with a couple of spoonfuls of veggie mixture.
  3. Sprinkle top with vegan mozzarella shreds, nutritional yeast or a combination.
  4. This recipe is so versatile. If peas aren’t your thing add some asparagus, or throw in some green beans and spinach. Add whatever spring vegetable that tantalizes your taste buds.


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