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Food glossary

Polenta

Polenta

Polenta is a coarse cornmeal, which was for centuries the staple wintertime food of the poor in some countries in southern Europe (notably Spain and Italy), the southern states of the USA, India, Egypt and other parts of Africa. Choose from instant powdered polenta which is known as maize meal or ready to use polenta which is sold in a solid block and looks a bit like rubbery cheese!

Uses: Maize meal can be heated with water and be served as a 'bed' for grilled meat, chicken or fish, butter or Parmesan cheese can be added to the mixture. Ready to use polenta or cooled, cooked maize meal can be sliced and cooked and used as an alternative to potatoes or bread. Or top cooked polenta slices with grilled meat or fish, slices of cheese or fried eggs.

To store: Keep powdered polenta in a cool, dry place for up to 2 years. Ready to use polenta should be kept in a cool, dry place for up to 2 months. Once opened store in the fridge and use within 2 days.

To prepare: Add maize meal to boiling water following the packet instructions and then stir for 5-10 minutes, the polenta can then be served as it is or cooked.

To cook: Ready to use polenta or cooked maize meal can be cut into slices and grilled for about 3 minutes on each side, fried in olive oil for 2-3 minutes on each side or baked at 220°C, gas mark 7 for 20 minutes. The polenta will turn crisp and golden once cooked.