Hearty Corn Polenta for Lunch - A Mediterranean Meal Staple for Centuries

Mediteranean and Native American

A-Maize-ing

Polenta is good stuff - filling, golden colored, warm and delicious. It's delicious, resembling cream of wheat, for a quick meatless meal or snack. I have been known to add milk and butter (while cooking) or sour cream (to the end result) to produce an Americanized version. Canned, creamed corn may also be added into the nearly completed polenta to give it a nice addition and presentation. Those who adore Ortega chiles may wish to dice and cook them in a bit of oil to sprinkle on top of the Polenta. These are just a few variations.


As a side dish, it nicely complements Croatian Fish Stew. Add a little fish soup broth from the Brudet to give it a more liquid texture with the great fish and vegetable flavor. An ideal meal for Summer or Winter, it fills you up without heating up the whole house or making you feel stuffed.

Polenta is a natural corn product, with roots in the New World when the Europeans discovered corn for the first time. Called Maize by the American Indian, it was used to make stone-ground tortillas and a porridge like mixture called Polenta.

Historical Food Tidbits

  • When slavery was outlawed in Brazil in the late 19th century, many Italian immigrants basically lived off of Polenta.
  • Potatoes were also exported from the Americas to Ireland, becoming a staple food source for the Irish population. Combined with buttermilk, it was a complete food source.
  • Tomatoes are also indigenous to the Western Hemisphere but were soon replanted in the warm Mediterranean climates where they flourished.

Children of the Corn

Many Italian immigrants as well as other Mediterranean groups lived off polenta - it was a staple food source
Many Italian immigrants as well as other Mediterranean groups lived off polenta - it was a staple food source
The amazing maize plant
The amazing maize plant | Source

Your Basic Polenta Recipe

In boiling salted water you will tenderly and respectfully add a tiny bit of polenta at a time to avoid annoying raw lumps of half cooked (or entirely uncooked) pockets of dry polenta.

As my mother in law instructed me, take a fistful of golden polenta in your left hand, and yes, I mean fist - and with your right hand, stir the pot. From the bottom of the fist let a little bit leak out and stir non-stop with a wooden spoon.

Add another fistful or two, but SLOWLY. Sooner or later it will start popping, so lower the heat, because these little explosions can burn your forearms. The popping means that the cooking is coming to completion. Give it another minute or two and then shut it off making sure to cover the pot.

In about five or ten minutes (the steam from the pot finishes the job), scoop a little into a bowl and taste. At this point you can add milk, butter, sour cream, or fish stew (the liquid in particular) if you like.

Golden, Delicious Serving Suggestions

sausages with polenta
sausages with polenta | Source
rabbit with polenta
rabbit with polenta | Source

And now for Dessert....

And here is another one to try, ideal for an after school snack (or special breakfast). If eaten in the afternoon, it will leave them happy but not ruin their appetite for dinner.

Depending on where you're from, it can also be known as Zlevanka, Bazlamača or Cicmara. We BAZLAMAČA, but that is not important. The main thing is - it's delicious and a recipe link is listed below. A sweet corn bread with a marmalade topping, it can also be made with grated apples and sour cream.

Ingredients -

1 liter of milk, 4 eggs, 6 T. sugar, lemon rind, salt, 2-1/2 cups of corn flour, 2 small carton of sour cream, 3/4 c. marmalade

Mix the eggs, milk, sugar and lemon rind, then add salt and corn flour. Pour into a greased and flour jelly roll pan or cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes. This will become a biscuit which you will spread the sour cream on at the end, and then put it immediately back into the still-warm oven. Now spread the marmalade on top and serve warm! It is essential that the biscuit be hot when you start spreading!

For those who love Mexican Food

Depending upon where you live, some products like delicious homemade corn tortillas are not always available. I found this amazing link on YouTube showing how the deed is done. No recipe is attached but they call it MASA and I think I spotted some MASA recipe on a nearby link. The woman in the video uses a tortilla press, which can be substituted with a ball of MASA and a rolling. Of course, the press will give you a more uniform look and would be worthwhile if you decide to go in the tortilla business :)

Corn or rice?

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Easy Tutorial - Make Corn Tortillas at Home

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Comments 4 comments

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

We love eating polenta. Instead of using water my husband generally cooks it using chicken stock. Delicious with herbs, etc. Yum! Thanks for the background information. Up and useful.


EuroCafeAuLait profile image

EuroCafeAuLait 4 years ago from Croatia, Europe Author

Bravo Peggy W, I do this too and forgot to mention it.

Some like it thick, others like it like soup. Glad you liked it and thanks for voting it up!


ytsenoh profile image

ytsenoh 4 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

Very interesting. It sounds delicious. I am familiar with MASA. My son and I made homemade tamales last week. It was time consuming, yet so easy and lots of fun.


EuroCafeAuLait profile image

EuroCafeAuLait 4 years ago from Croatia, Europe Author

Yes, they are. Tamales are fantastic, but frankly, I don't make them because I get the same effect from polenta made like a shepherd's pie recipe. Using chicken and meat used from the basic soup recipe (see my hub about a One Pot Sunday Lunch for details) I layer the cooked meat with the prepared polenta and bake it awhile in the oven til the top is (even more) golden and crispy. Its much easier and less time consuming, good luck!

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