Flavors of Italy

Polenta is the basis of rustic Italian mountain cooking. It is always made from cornmeal. It originated in northern Italy but gradually conquered the other Italian provinces, adopting various “accents” in its travels. Polenta is served firm in the provinces of Veneto and Friuli, creamy in Abruzzi.


White polenta
This is the most common form, found in the regions of Trieste and Montfalcone. It is served as a side dish with seafood.


Amber polenta
This is the polenta of the plains provinces, usually served with chicken and mushrooms.


Red polenta
Originally from the Carnia mountains, stronger in flavor, it makes a good accompaniment to game.


Polenta is prepared according to centuries-old tradition, with a good deal of patience and elbow grease, in huge copper kettles set over the fire. Although pre-made polenta is widely available on the market, you can make it yourself, just like any good Italian mama.


How to serve it
Polenta is as versatile as potatoes

• plain, still hot, drizzled with butter or meat juices
• cooled, sliced and fried in oil or butter
• topped with tomato sauce or pesto
• served with a vegetable fricassee
• topped with grated Montasio cheese and browned in the oven
• cut into cubes and added to a broth for a quick soup.

Polenta – Basic Recipe


Cooking time: Under 30 minutes
Cost: Economical
Difficulty: Very easy



  • 375 ml (1 1/2 cups) fine cornmeal
  • 2 tbsp. salt
  • 500 ml (2 cups) water


  1. bring the water to a boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan;
  2. add the salt; sprinkle in the cornmeal;
  3. reduce the heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally to prevent lumps from forming;
  4. remove from the heat once a spoon will stand upright in the polenta;
  5. depending on how you plan to use it, serve immediately or pour into a greased loaf pan and cool before slicing. 



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