Stretching out with polenta

For years now, I've been meaning to try polenta. I kept hearing about it. Seeing it in the store. Wondering what one does with it. And of course, asking myself "how does it taste?". The idea of polenta wasn't foreign to me, after all, I'd grown up with it's cultural 'cousin', grits (ground hominy). But for several reasons (mainly the unappealing look of it), I just never put it in my grocery cart.

Until now.

Committing to going gluten-free for 90 days has spawned me to try new things again. Plus it's spring ... well almost. So what better time to take on new things, to blossom and grow in experiences?! 

On day 5 of the GF lifestyle, I decided to buy, and promised myself to make, polenta. Sorry but I didn't want to experiment with making it from scratch just yet. Instead, I wanted to test drive it first, see if I even like it, and then venture into making my own, perhaps. 

At home, polenta in hand, I surveying the contents of my fridge and pantry, then googled 'vegan polenta recipes' and even tweeted an online friend (@glutenfreeninja) for assistance on a gluten-free vegan substitute for tamari or shoyu sauce. Turns out she's not vegan though so ... anyway, when I happened across a Polenta Lasagna with Portabellas and Kale recipe that just felt like THE ONE.

As usual, I adapted it to my own liking and needs. Instead of using kale, I chopped up collards. Since I wasn't sure about the polenta, I opted not to layer it in-between the veggies, as directed. And with no tofu for the 'cheez' sauce, I skipped it and topped the dish with nutritional yeast instead. All the while, Hubs is looking on skeptically. He knows that many of my new dishes and mistakes turn out to be the best tasting creations in our home. But I could tell he wasn't sold, just yet.

Twenty minutes in the convection oven and we'd know if polenta was a keeper. 

Here's how my polenta dish turned out ...

Well, it was clear from the first bite that I should have doubled the recipe. It was good. The Man called it 'delicious'! What I learned: Polenta looks funny but cooks up nicely. Baked, it can easily replace pasta, especially lasagna noodles. Its flavor is mild, yet not bland. The texture massages the tongue and enlivens the taste bids! We cleaned the small panful quickly, dismayed that it was all gone. 

Today is round two. We'll be having polenta for dinner. Same recipe, this time with the 'cheez' sauce.

So, looks like polenta has officially found a welcome home in our kitchen!