A stumbled-upon combo is a taste revelation.
1 cup stone-ground polenta
1/2 pound fresh mozzarella
1/2cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
Leaves from 1 bunch dried fresh sage**
Red pepper flakes
Step 1: Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a large heavy saucepan and add 2 tsp salt. Whisk in the polenta and continue whisking as it begins to bubble. After a minute or two, when the polenta has thickened a bit, reduce the heat to low and let cook gently, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes, until thickened and smooth, with no raw cornmeal taste. If the polenta gets too thick as it cooks, add a bit more water. Remove a spoonful and cool, then taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.
Step 2: Spread the polenta on a lightly oiled baking dish to a thickness of 1/2 inch. Let cool and set, preferably overnight, in the refrigerator.
Step 3: Heat the oven to 400°F, with a rack in the top third. Tear the mozzarella into big shreds and scatter over the polenta. Top with parmesan. Drizzle lightly with oil and crumble the sage leaves on top.
Step 4: Bake the polenta until the cheese is bubbling and lightly browned, 10-15 minutes. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and freshly ground black pepper to taste and let cool slightly.
Step 5: Serve cut into rough wedges or squares.
** You can dry a bunch of fresh sage by leaving it on a windowsill for a day or two. Freshly dried sage is quite flavorful, but if you don't get around to this, don't substitute sage from a jar — use a little chopped rosemary instead.
Makes 4 servings
See more recipes from David Tanis.