Polenta's easy when precooked

Try This At Home

February 11, 2007|By Newsday

Polenta is a culinary chameleon: it may be either sweet or savory, and crisp, soft and creamy, or cake-like. Polenta is also sold fully cooked, as in this recipe, in tubes that are usually about 1 pound. Open the package over the sink -- when you cut open the plastic, liquid will come out.

POLENTA WITH MEATY TOMATO SAUCE

Makes 4 servings

1 pound tube (precooked) polenta

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

1/2 green pepper, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried basil (or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1/2 pound lean ground beef

1/2 cup no-fat lower-sodium chicken broth

1/2 cup light shredded mozzarella

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a baking pan with cooking spray. Cut the polenta into 12 1/2 -inch rounds, place them on the cookie sheet and coat them lightly with cooking spray. Top each round with 1 teaspoon of the parmesan. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly golden. Remove from the oven and turn on the broiler.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium high flame. Add onion, green pepper and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 to 4 minutes or until softened. Add thyme, basil, salt, tomatoes and beef. Cook, stirring to break up the meat, for 6 minutes or until cooked through. Add chicken broth and cook 4 minutes longer, or until mixture is a chunky thick liquid.

Spoon the sauce over the polenta rounds and top with the mozzarella. Place under the broiler just long enough to slightly melt the cheese.

Per serving: 306 calories, 22 grams protein, 27 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams fiber, 12 grams fat, 5 grams saturated fat, 30 milligrams cholesterol, 1,073 milligrams sodium. Recipe analysis provided by Newsday.

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