Sometimes, Mother Nature is just mean. A week ago, it seemed like spring was really here. The sun was shining, temperatures were in the seventies and all our winter concerns seemed like a distant memory. This week, the weather has been rainy and cool and there’s snow in the weekend forecast. Though it isn’t right to complain about a winter that barely was, I’m ready to dive fully into spring. I want the flowers that are starting to peek out from the dirt in my garden to blossom and I want to stop wearing my winter coat. I know the time will come soon and I am so ready.
However, it’s still a bit too soon to put away winter comfort foods. Cheesy polenta is a weeknight meal I enjoy making because it’s delicious – creamy, warm and rich – but also because I almost always keep the ingredients on hand, making it a great solution for a night when I might not have planned something else. Try as I might, sometimes my menu plans fail me and I need to come up with something else in a hurry.
This recipe has a very short ingredient list. Polenta is just coarsely ground cornmeal and I would imagine you could find it at any grocery store. I usually buy mine from the bulk bins at Wild Oats Co-op in Williamstown, but look near the grains, flours or Mexican products in your supermarket.
Cheesy Polenta with Tomatoes and Chickpeas
- 1 cup milk
- 2 cups canned diced tomatoes
- 1 cup dry polenta coarse cornmeal
- 1 cup chickpeas
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- Combine the milk and 1 and 1/2 cups water in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat until the mixture is just about boiling.
- Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, mix together the canned tomatoes, chickpeas and Italian seasoning. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally. If the mixture begins to boil, turn it to low while you wait for the polenta to be ready.
- When the milk/water mixture is nearly boiling, slowing pour in the polenta while simultaneously whisking together the liquid and the solid cornmeal. Turn the heat to low and continue to whisk for about 10 minutes, or until the polenta is thick and creamy.
- Add the cheddar cheese to the polenta mixture and fully combine using the whisk. If the mixture becomes too thick, add water (about 1/4 cup at a time) and continue to whisk until your desired consistency is reached.
- Taste the polenta and the sauce and add salt and pepper if needed.
- Serve by topping the polenta with the tomato and chickpea sauce.