Polenta–One Alternative to Mashed Potatos

As lovely as they are and as many ways there are to gussy them up, mashed potatos become a bore if served night after night. One nice alternative is Polenta–corn meal porridge. While traditional Polenta takes a while to cook, there are quick cooking varieties. I have been using Roland Quick Cooking Polenta, because that’s what is available in my local stores. HERE is a link to a nice article on Polenta that includes a basic recipe. Whether you decide for the traditional or the quick cooking, remember to keep the Polenta loose and mushy. If it gets too stiff, just whisk in more water

Polenta tastes nice, for example, with tomato-based sauces, with a rich mushroom or porcini white sauce, or with food with Mexican flavors. It is also good with cheese mixed in–Parmesan or what ever is to your taste.

Ingredients for a Small Portion

  • 1/4 Cup Roland Quick Cooking Polenta
  • 1 1/4 Cup Water
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Salt


Bring the water with the salt added to a boil in a small saucepan. Whisk in the Polenta a bit at a time to prevent lumping. Turn the heat down and simmer while whisking for 5-8 minutes (really, until it’s done).

If you let it sit, it will firm up. To warm it up again before serving, just put it over low heat and whisk in small amounts of water until it is hot and has the desired consistency.

If you refrigerate it, the left-overs will turn into a dense cake. To reheat, put the desired portion in a small saucepan. Add water (about 1/4 per 1/2 cup or so of cold Polenta). Bring the water to a boil, reduce to it to a simmer, and mash the polenta with a Potato Masher until the lumps are gone. Or squeeze the cold polenta into the saucepan through a Potato Ricer. Cook, stirring often and adding water as needed, until the Polenta is the desired consistency.


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