Robin’s Healthy Take: Tubed Polenta, Two Ways

by in Robin's Healthy Take, March 16, 2012
polenta
Grilled Polenta With Creamed Spinach

Ever seen those tubes of pre-cooked polenta in the store and thought, “Cool, but what the heck would I do with that?” Prepared polenta is your best “kitchen buddy” because you can skip the time-consuming process of making polenta from scratch AND you get a cornmeal-based dish with dozens of options. Think of polenta as a creative, fiber-rich alternative to your traditional starch – pasta, rice, potatoes, bread. Since tubed polenta is pre-cooked, you simply slice and reheat by sauteing, grilling, roasting, broiling or even microwaving. Once the slices are tender on the inside and caramelized on the outside, top them with just about anything – your favorite sauce, vegetable, meat, seafood and/or cheese. You can even use cubes of polenta in vegetarian recipes that call for tofu. Check out my recipes below: In the first, the polenta is grilled and topped with Parmesan-spiked creamed spinach and the second is seared and then topped with Caprese-style toppings. Got fun ideas of your own? Send them my way!

Grilled Polenta With Creamed Spinach
For thinner creamed spinach, add 1/2 cup buttermilk.

Cooking spray
18-ounce tube prepared polenta, sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices (makes 12 slices)
1 cup thawed frozen chopped spinach (well-drained)
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried minced onion (sold in the spice aisle)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Coat a stove-top grill pan with cooking spray and preheat to medium-high. Add polenta slices to hot pan and cook 2-3 minutes per side, until golden brown.

Meanwhile, combine remaining ingredients (spinach through nutmeg) in a small saucepan and set pan over medium heat. Bring a simmer. Simmer 2-3 minutes, until hot. Spoon hot spinach mixture over grilled polenta slices and serve.

Makes 12 polenta rounds

Nutrition Info Per Serving (1 polenta slice with toppings)
Calories: 132
Total Fat: Saturated Fat: Total Carbohydrate: 27 grams
Sugars: 1 gram
Protein: 4 grams
Sodium: 100 milligrams
Cholesterol: 2 milligrams
Fiber: 3 grams

polenta with pesto
Seared Polenta With Pesto, Tomato and Asiago

Cooking spray
18-ounce tube prepared polenta, sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices (makes 12 slices)
2 tablespoons prepared basil pesto
2 Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
4 ounces thinly sliced Asiago cheese

Coat a stove-top griddle or large skillet with cooking spray and preheat to medium-high. Add polenta slices to hot pan and cook 2-3 minutes per side, until golden brown.

Preheat broiler.

Top each polenta slice with 1/2 teaspoon pesto, 1 tomato slice and 1 slice Asiago cheese. Transfer slices to a baking sheet and place under the broiler. Broil 1-2 minutes, until cheese melts.

Makes 12 polenta rounds

Nutrition Info Per Serving (1 polenta slice with toppings)
Calories: 164
Total Fat: 4 grams
Saturated Fat: 1.9 grams
Total Carbohydrate: 27 grams
Sugars: 1 gram
Protein: 6 grams
Sodium: 133 milligrams
Cholesterol: 9 milligrams
Fiber: 3 grams

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Robin Miller is a nutritionist, host of Quick Fix Meals, author of “Robin Takes 5” and “Robin Rescues Dinner” and the busy mom of two active little boys. Her boys and great food are her passion. Check her out at www.robinrescuesdinner.com.

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