If one of your New Year's resolutions was to cook more meals at home, then you've landed on the right article. At Bob's Red Mill, we love helping our readers create delicious, homemade meals with wholesome and healthy ingredients. And while we have an extensive online recipe book full of tasty recipes that you can cook at home, the recipes that include polenta are among our favorites. Polenta is an easy-to-make dish that often gets forgotten about. If you’re a fan of polenta and want to consume it more often, we suggest learning more about this ingredient so that you can make it at home, anytime you please. Continue reading to discover the nutritional facts of polenta and its many health benefits.
What Is Polenta?
If you didn't grow up in an Italian family, you might not know what polenta is. Though polenta can be found on most grocery store shelves, it's often passed up by those who don't understand how to cook with it, and we're here to change that. Before we go any further, let's take a moment to discuss what polenta is and how it's made.
Polenta, a Northern Italian dish, is made from coarsely ground yellow corn. Its simplicity and versatility have made it a regularly eaten dish in many Italian households, as it requires just a few ingredients: water, salt and butter. Polenta is often combined with various foods ranging from short ribs to pork and is a featured ingredient in baked treats like polenta croutons and polenta cake.
Polenta vs. Grits
Traditional polenta is made of dried yellow corn. The corn kernels have a flaky texture which lends a crunchiness that other ingredients can't replicate. Sound a bit similar to Southern grits? It is! Though polenta and grits are nearly identical, they also have many differences. The main difference between grits and polenta is how they’re used.
Polenta vs. Cornmeal
When cooking a recipe with polenta, you may notice that it calls for cornmeal instead. Though cornmeal and polenta can be used interchangeably, cornmeal is a more finely ground substitute and lacks some of the texture that traditional polenta provides. When shopping for polenta, search for clearly labeled polenta like Bob's Red Mill Yellow Corn Polenta. Made from the highest quality yellow corn, our polenta is ground the traditional way and is packaged ready to use in countless recipes. In addition to regular and organic polenta, we also carry gluten free polenta—ideal for gluten free cooking and baking recipes.
What Does Polenta Taste Like?
Made solely from corn, polenta tastes like creamy corn porridge. When cooked to perfection, the cooked corn grains will taste sweet instead of bitter or raw. Additionally, the quality of the polenta used will undoubtedly affect its flavor. The better variety of polenta you start with, the better your recipes will taste.
Yellow Corn Polenta Nutritional Facts
Nutritional Information of polenta based on one serving size of our Yellow Corn Polenta.
Serving Size 1/4 cup (40g)
Total Fat 0g
Saturated Fat 0g
Trans fat 0g
Total Carbohydrate 32g
Dietary Fiber 1g
Total Sugars 0g
Vitamin D 0 mcg
Benefits of Polenta
Curious to learn more about polenta? Here are a few of the most notable benefits.
Polenta Can Be Cooked in Many Ways
There's no one right way to cook polenta. In fact, there are several! Polenta can be grilled, fried and baked to create everything from a hearty meal to a sweet dessert.
Polenta Can Be Served at Different Temperatures
Just as polenta can be cooked in several ways, it can also be served at different temperatures. Depending on the dish, you may want to serve polenta, hot, cold or somewhere in-between.
Polenta Is Easy to Prepare
The perfect starter food for beginner cooks, polenta is incredibly easy to prepare. Follow these simple tips for cooking polenta to ensure that your recipe is successful every time.
Polenta Is Low Calorie
If you're looking to create a filling dish without packing on too many calories, then polenta is an excellent option. Polenta is often used to substitute grains like pasta and rice, as it's lower in calories and is a source of complex carbohydrates. Because complex carbohydrates aren't broken down as quickly as simple carbohydrates, it's ideal for individuals watching their blood sugar levels.
Polenta Is a Source of Protein
Most varieties of polenta are made with one ingredient—corn. That being so, polenta offers a source of plant protein that can make sticking to a healthy, balanced diet much easier, especially for individuals with dietary restrictions. If you're following a plant-based diet, are a picky eater, or searching for more ways to include protein in your diet, polenta is an excellent option.
Another reason polenta is commonly used as a substitute for carbs like pasta is there are gluten free versions. Its starchy, carb-filled nature allows you to recreate delicious recipes like cake and chili pot pie sans gluten.
Now, what happens if you don't have polenta on hand yet still want to cook a recipe with it? Several ingredients can be substituted for polenta. However, the chosen substitution will largely depend on how you plan to serve it. If you're creating a breakfast dish that includes polenta as one of the ingredients, then oatmeal or grits will work well as a substitute. If you plan to serve a polenta-based recipe for dinner alongside a meaty sauce, then mashed potatoes or risotto would act as a better replacement.
Ready to start cooking with polenta? Choose from one of the recipes below to get started!
Gluten Free Polenta Cake with Fresh Blueberries
Searching for a gluten free cake option? You've found it! This Gluten Free Polenta Cake with Fresh Blueberries is the ideal dessert for any event. It's made by combining our Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour with Gluten Free Medium Cornmeal to create a fluffy cake-like texture that holds its shape even without gluten present. Moist and delicious, it's the perfect cake to surprise friends and family with, whether they eat gluten or not. Top it with fresh blueberries and buttercream for a simple yet flavorful dessert that will quickly become the talk of the party.
Grilled Tomato Polenta with Gorgonzola
Now that we've discussed how polenta can be used to create a delicious dessert, it's time to try out a more savory recipe. This Grilled Tomato Polenta with Gorgonzola is the perfect polenta dish to make when you're in search of a savory side dish. Made with just a handful of ingredients, polenta, gorgonzola cheese and sun-dried tomatoes add a unique flavor to this recipe that tastes great when paired with protein like chicken or steak. Create a batch of this polenta to enjoy alongside the main course, or pair it with a salad for a light lunch.
Basic Italian Polenta
Craving Italian food? If you're new to cooking with polenta, we recommend starting with this Basic Italian Polenta recipe. So easy to make, this polenta recipe will help introduce you to the ingredient's taste and texture, motivating you to cook with it more frequently. Made with just four ingredients: unsalted butter, sea salt, polenta and water—It's an uncomplicated dish that can be combined with various flavorful ingredients to create a hearty meal that everyone can enjoy. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, try our Polenta Pizza recipe or Scallops with Polenta recipe.
Polenta In a Pressure Cooker
Ideal for days when you don't have much time to spend in the kitchen, this Polenta Recipe can be made in minutes with the help of a pressure cooker. Just three ingredients and five minutes of cook time are needed to make a polenta recipe worthy of any event. What's more, because all of the ingredients are combined into one bowl, it makes for a fast clean up too! Gluten free, lactose free, low calorie, soy free and vegan use our Yellow Corn Polenta to ensure that this recipe is celiac friendly.
Eager to start cooking with polenta? Choose from one of the recipes above or search our online recipe book for more great-tasting polenta recipes. An excellent dish for dinner guests, everyone will enjoy a bite of polenta, whether they eat gluten or not. From everyone at Bob's Red Mill, we wish you the best on your polenta-making journey!
Do you enjoy cooking with polenta? We'd love to hear about the wonderful recipes you cook up with this ingredient. Share your favorite polenta-based dishes with us in the comments below. We can't wait to hear from you.