PREP: 15 minutes COOK: 25 minutes MAKES 6 servings

• 21⁄2 cups water
• 1 cup coarse-ground yellow cornmeal
• 1 cup cold water
• 1 teaspoon salt

1. In a medium saucepan bring the 21⁄2 cups water to boiling. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl stir together cornmeal, the 1 cup cold water, and the salt.
2. Slowly add cornmeal mixture to boiling water, stirring constantly. Cook and stir until mixture returns to boiling. Reduce heat to medium-low to low. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes or until mixture is very thick and tender, stirring frequently and adjusting heat as needed to maintain a slow boil. To serve, spoon soft polenta into individual serving bowls.

PER SERVING for soft polenta and firm polenta: 85 cal., 0 g total fat (0 g sat. fat), 0 mg chol., 390 mg sodium, 18 g carb., 1 g fiber, 2 g pro.

Firm Polenta

Prepare as above, except pour the hot soft polenta into a 9-inch pie plate, spreading into an even layer. Let stand, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Cover and chill at least 1 hour or until firm. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake polenta, uncovered, about 25 minutes or until heated through. Let stand on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Cut into six wedges to serve. Makes 6 servings.

Fried Polenta

Prepare as above, except pour the hot soft polenta into a 71⁄2 x31⁄2 x2-inch or 8x4x2-inch loaf pan; cool. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours hours or overnight. Run a thin metal spatula around the edges of the pan. Remove polenta loaf from the pan and cut crosswise into 12 slices. In a large skillet or on a griddle heat 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium. Cook half of the polenta slices for 16 to 20 minutes or until brown and crisp, turning once halfway through cooking. Repeat with remaining polenta slices, adding 1 tablespoon butter to skillet before adding polenta slices. If desired, serve with additional butter and honey or maple-flavor syrup. Makes 6 servings.

PER SERVING: 119 cal., 4 g total fat (2 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat), 10 mg chol., 418 mg sodium, 18 g carb., 1 g fiber, 2 g pro.


Decrease salt to 1⁄2 teaspoon and stir in 1⁄2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Parmesan, Romano, or fontina cheese after cooking.

Stir in 2 tablespoons snipped fresh basil or fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley or 1 teaspoon snipped fresh oregano or thyme after cooking.

Decrease salt to 1⁄2 teaspoon and stir in 2 tablespoons butter after cooking.


For added flavor, use chicken-flavor vegetable broth in place of the water and omit the salt.