So often people ask me what I make for dinner when I need something quick and easy. My first choice, by far, is polenta. I can whip up a polenta dinner in 15 minutes, using vegetables I have on hand along with a generous sprinkling of some aromatic cheese. I always follow the same formula: saute in combination or alone vegetables such as peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, corn, zucchini, green beans, asparagus, or spinach, then keep warm on the back burner. You can throw in a smatter of fresh herbs, or add some tomato sauce to compatible vegetables such as peppers, cauliflower, green beans, or zucchini.
To make the polenta I bring 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock or water to a boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. I add about 1/4 teaspoon salt and then lower the heat to medium low. I VERY slowly drizzle in 3/4 cup cornmeal, all the while whisking with a wire whisk. Once the cornmeal is completely incorporated, I whisk it for about 5 minutes, or until smooth and thick. This is not a fragile concoction; it is actually cornmeal mush, so you can fiddle with it without hurting it. Add more water if it is too thick, or cook a little longer if too thin. I have often covered my polenta and kept it on very low heat up to 30 minutes, then raised the heat and whisked in some more water to make it creamy again. Just before serving, I add a chunk of butter, some grated Parmesan cheese, and some grated or crumbled specialty cheese such as blue cheese, goat cheese, feta cheese, or smoked cheese. To serve, I first make sure the vegetables are piping hot. The polenta gets spooned on the dinner plates then topped with the vegetables. This will serve 2 generously.