The Most Fabulous Polenta

This recipe is different from run of the mill recipes. There are no measurements as it is made of pure passion and sunshine. Be inspired and try it out for yourself….with only organic non-genetically modified ingredients, of course!
When I was 17 years old I was hitchhiking through Italy and found myself in a huge stately farm near Florence, dating from the Renaissance period. Some people from two different organic farm communities were having a gathering there and a decision was reached to make a fabulous feast of polenta. In the beginning, I was not impressed having eaten what my mother called ‘corn meal mush’ my whole childhood, a basically tasteless gruel, which kept hunger at bay but did not excite the taste buds. But Polenta a la Italiana is a very different experience!

The cook explained to me that unless polenta is made as a form of sun worship, it doesn’t have the right to be called polenta! He then manifested as if by magic, an ancient iron cauldron and proceeded to hang it over a huge fireplace set into the ancient stone wall of the enormous kitchen cum dining room. A fire was built by enthusiastic hands and suddenly all the people present were gesticulating wildly, all no doubt giving their grandmother recipes for how to create the very best polenta. (My Italian was not very developed and so I may have missed some of the more subtle nuances of this conversation.)

Some of the women got together to create a sauce made only from the best sun ripened tomatoes and fresh basil while the men put their best efforts towards the polenta. This turned out to be a true manly challenge. They explained to me that the only true polenta is made over a wood fire in a cauldron and that in order for it not to burn, it has to be stirred continuously while keeping the fire neither too strong nor too weak. The type of wood is also of concern for some wood will give one taste while another wood will give an entirely different taste. It took three strong men to continuously turn the polenta till it was slightly firm with a golden sheen on it. They then took an immense silver platter and deftly turned the cauldron so that the polenta plopped out onto it. The cauldron had a round bottom, so that when the polenta was presented to us, bottom side up, it appeared to be a truly round and radiant sun! Home grown and produced olive oil was carefully spread over the sun polenta and as it glistened and steamed in front of us I believe everyone present was overcome with sun worshipping sentiments.

My mouth was more than watering as I watched the group effort in carefully making a small hollow in the sun, in order to bless it with the exquisite ruby red tomato sauce. The scent of fresh herbs wafted over the assembly and in reverence, we proffered bowls to receive this divine gift of sun gifted food created with so much passion and joy.

The home grown and produced wine added another level of zest to our feast. Polenta has never tasted dull to me since then and indeed, even badly made polenta still gives rise to religious fervour in my being. Of course, the best way to make it is, with a round bottomed iron pot over an open fire, and only the freshest of herbs in the hand-made sauce made with real tomatoes grown in sunshine…

For Sauce
Fresh tomatoes grown in earth and sunshine.
Herbs of Provence,
Fresh basil,
Red peppers,
Organic olives.

Steam and then peel the tomatoes. Put chopped onions and red peppers in a wok together with a little bit of oil and herbs of Provence. Fry till softened. Add some sliced zucchini and high-quality organic olives. Add the tomatoes and cook till you have a lovely sauce. You can also add salt to taste and a bit of chili if you would like it spicy. Crush or chop fresh basil and add to the sauce.

For Polenta
Organic non-genetically modified corn meal.
High quality water, one bowl per person being served.
Salt to taste

Heat the water to a boil and slowly add the corn meal, stirring non-stop. The corn meal will thicken so do not add too much. As it thickens, you will be able to sense how much needs to be added. Gradually the polenta will become thickened to the point it will become a bit stiff while still being soft and pliable. You will need to stir it continuously for approximately 15 – 20 minutes.

Once it is done, let it set for a few minutes with the lid on, and after turning it onto a platter, add some organic extra virgin real olive oil (watch out for fake olive oil as it is mass produced and the real variety is hard to find.)
Make a small hollow in the polenta and add some of the sauce for dramatic effect and then when the polenta is served you can add more sauce for those who would like.

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