Made essentially with cornmeal and water, polenta is a popular side dish in Italy.
Contrary to many Italian dishes, it’s also low in fat. Eat polenta spooned onto your plate like mashed potatoes, or baked into a dense corn bread and cut into shapes.
There are as many renditions of polenta as there are creative Italian cooks. Part-skim mozzarella and Parmesan flavor the version below. In fact, there’s enough cheese to turn this recipe into a low-fat main dish. Pair it with green beans or another cooked vegetable.
Cheese Polenta with Tomato Sauce
2 3/4 cup water
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup cold water
Dash bottled hot pepper sauce
1 cup shredded part-skim or nonfat mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2/3 cup chopped green sweet pepper
1 cup lower-sodium, lower-fat meatless spaghetti sauce
In large saucepan bring 2 3/4 cups water to boiling. Place cornmeal in a mixing bowl; stir in 1 cup cold water and hot pepper sauce. Slowly add cornmeal mixture to boiling water, stirring constantly. Cook and stir until mixture returns to boiling. Reduce heat; cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until very thick, stirring occasionally.
Pour half of the mixture into a 9-inch pie plate; spread evenly. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese. Top with green pepper. Spread remaining cornmeal mixture evenly on top. (If mixture becomes too thick, add a little water.) Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese. Cover and chill for several hours or until firm.
Bake, uncovered, in a 400-degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden and heated through.
Meanwhile, heat spaghetti sauce. To serve, cut polenta into four wedges; top with sauce.
Yield: makes 4 main-dish or 6 side-dish servings.
Nutrition information per serving: 257 calories, 7 grams fat (25 percent fat calories), 21 milligrams cholesterol, 435 milligrams sodium, 33 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber, 14 grams protein.
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