Monday, April 11, 2011

Meatless Monday: Polenta with Gorgonzola

Have I ever mentioned that I love cheese? I'm sure I have, but really, who doesn't love cheese? This is America! However, I think it's safe to say that my love for cheese may run a little bit deeper than the average American's. As a rule, I keep three different types of cheese in my refrigerator at all times--typically fresh Parmigianno Reggiano, a New York or Irish cheddar and a wild card like goat or blue cheese. There was this one time at band camp that through some cruel twist of fate, my home was completely devoid of cheese and for reasons I'm not really clear on*, I had to wait several days before I could replenish my supply. Those dark days, which are forever etched into my psyche, made me realize just how important a role cheese plays in my kitchen. It also made me realize that I probably consume more cheese than is appropriate, and at some point I will have to reign in my lust for this milk based product--not just for the sake of my arteries, but also because I hope to be married one day, and cheese doesn't always love my occasionally lactose intolerant tummy--a fact I'm sure my future husband won't find too charming. TMI? Naahh...everybody farts.

But the thing about cheese is that it's awesome. And just a sentence after I said I should eat less of it, I present to you a polenta dish that chock full o' cheese. I'm not exactly crazy about polenta, which is essentially the Italian version of grits, but then again, I've never put much effort into making polenta. So last week, I decided to take a crack at it again, using a recipe from my trusty Everyday Italian cookbook.

Giada's recipe originally calls for heavy cream, but I just can't bring myself to cook with heavy cream, and I never keep it in my fridge. Half & half, however, is an excellent stand in for cream or milk, and is a staple in my refrigerator (along with cheese, bacon, and bourbon). I love simple recipes, and as you can see, this recipe calls for minimal ingredients (water not pictured). And just look at that glorious Gorgonzola!

Making polenta is simple, except it's not. Cornmeal has a tendency to clump when it hits hot water, and all the stirring in the world doesn't completely eliminate the lumps. Of course, the recipe clearly states to gradually add the cornmeal to boiling water. But this is me, and I don't follow rules like it's my job. So I'm going to invest in a good sifter/strainer, and hope that it makes my polenta smoother, and easier to incorporate the cheese and milk.

Creamy Polenta with Gorgonzola Cheese (adapted from Giada de Laurentiis, Everyday Italian)
Print this Recipe! I don't know many people this woman cooks for, but I halved her recipe and still ate polenta for 3 days.


2 1/2 cups Water
1 cups Yellow cornmeal
1/8 cup Olive oil
1/4 cup Half & half
3 ounces mild Gorgonzola, cut into thin slices
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, optional

Bring water to a boil in a heavy large saucepan. Gradually whisk in the cornmeal. Reduce the heat and simmer until the mixture thickens and the cornmeal is tender, stirring often, about 20 minutes. After 10 minutes, you can switch to a wooden spoon for easier stirring. [note to self, purchase wooden spoon!]

Turn off the heat. Add the half & half and Gorgonzola and stir until the cheese melts. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer the polenta to a bowl and serve.

But city girl cannot live on cornmeal and blue cheese alone, this is Meatless Monday, after all. Y'all know I don't make a big fuss about roasting vegetables. Just olive oil, salt, pepper, and some quality time with a 375 oven for 12-15 minutes.

And Barbarry bread! Oh how I love to stop in my local halal grocer for über cheap spices (post coming) and walk out with something I've never tried. Barbarry (or Barbari according to Google) is a Persian flat bread from Iran. It had a light caraway flavor, which I can only describe as a mix of floral and peppery. In other words delicious. I at that entire flat bread in 24 hours. Carbs anyone?

Again, just a drizzle of olive oil and a few minutes under the broiler. I'm pretty sure the olive oil cancels out the effects of the cheese**. So cheers to that!

As God as my witness, I shall never go cheeseless again!

*I'm pretty sure those reason revolved around my parking challenged neighborhood and refusing to move my car except for combined errands outings
**Further research pending


  1. Sounds and looks yummy. I guess mixing that bacon in would have killed Meatless Mondays, huh? *lol*

  2. Ha, I like to think of mondays as a reprieve from my constant desire for

  3. Cheese!! I have passionate love affair with the stuff. Too bad now it's more of an occasional tryst. I'm going to start Meatless Mondays at my house that don't involve pasta...that's alway seems to be my meatless solution.

  4. Pasta isn't so bad, especially if it's whole wheat pasta. But it's
    definitely good to branch out

  5. I think I have cheese with every meal. Just had toast with cream cheese for breakfast in fact! And I have totally made this polenta before...though not with gorganzola, which my husband would love!

  6. You should definitely try it with gorgonzola, it was so rich and tangy. yum!



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