With quinoa, oats, and rice within arm’s reach, polenta definitely gets overlooked as a pantry staple. Made from ground yellow corn and most often used to make hot porridge, I get that it’s not the most exciting food in the world. But that’s just because you don’t know about all the surprising uses for polenta.
According to Brittany Modell, RD, founder of Brittany Modell Nutrition and Wellness, polenta is a great pantry item to have on hand. Not just because it’s simple to make, but also because it’s nutritious. “Polenta is gluten-free, which is great for those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. It’s also a complex carbohydrate and whole grain, low in fat, and high in vitamins, such as vitamin A,” she says. Polenta is similar to grits, which is made from white corn instead of yellow.
Aside from its impressive nutritional profile, polenta is super versatile, which gives you many opportunities to to use it. Modell says you can treat it like a pasta dish and top it with a tomato sauce, cover it with sautéed vegetables, or even make it into a ragout. It also keeps well in the refrigerator after its cooked, allowing you to get multiple healthy meals out of it.
“When you cook polenta, the grains tend to sop up a lot of the cooking liquid. This guarantees generous portions that can be used throughout the week,” says Modell. “After you cook the creamy polenta, you can re-use a lot of the content for leftovers. For example, you can bake or grill them on the stove. You can even cut them into little squares to make polenta croutons to top your soup and salads with.”
For more ideas to get you started, try these nutritious recipes that will have you dusting off your bag of polenta ASAP.
Surprising uses for polenta that make it so versatile
Sweet potato fries are delicious and all, but these baked polenta fries will provide you with an entirely new dipping experience.
Fire up the grill and make a batch of these polenta kabobs for dinner. Paired with curry veggies, they’re loaded with flavor.
This vegetarian casserole—which is filled with polenta, black beans, and spices—is sure to become a new favorite.
Because of course polenta makes the perfect base for all your favorite pizza toppings.
You can’t forget dessert. This recipe uses polenta to create the lemon-blueberry cake of your dreams.
These gluten-free polenta muffins are great for boosting your brain health. Then try these healthy recipes that prove grits make a delicious breakfast.