I always struggled with polenta; when I tried to pan fry it it was always too thin, or I had too much oil and it would totally disintegrate. I experimented this time and came up with a great recipe that is easy to make and tastes great! It takes a bit of prep, but it’s not hard, you just have to be patient!
When you’re going to be frying the polenta later, you want to make it really thick to begin with, so if you have a regular polenta recipe, throw it out. Get three parts of boiling water going on a cooktop and add one part polenta slowly and stirring constantly and a pat of butter. We used about a cup of polenta. Cook for about 10 to 20 minutes– until the consistency is thick, like a paste. Your spoon should stand up in it. Stir in a pinch of salt and pepper and half cup or so of parmesan cheese. Take off the heat and pour it out like a slab onto a cutting board; lay wax paper on top and place a heavy object on top of the wax paper. If you put wax paper on top of the polenta, it will make two smooth surfaces (the top and the bottom) to make frying easier. Put this in the refrigerator to cool.
Once the polenta slab has cooled, cut into triangles. Heat a teaspoon or so of olive oil over medium heat in a nonstick frying pan and place your triangles inside. Move the pan around a little so they don’t stick, and use a good spatula to flip! I only do one or two at a time and keep the rest warm in a 200 degree oven once they have been pan fried.
The fried olive sauce is the easiest and most delicious way to dress up this polenta! Chop up a handful of black olives and a clove or two of garlic and add them to a few teaspoons of olive oil over medium heat. After they’ve cooked up for a few minutes, add salt, pepper, and a two or three finely chopped tomatoes. Finnish with the juice of a lemon and some minced fresh basil and take off the heat to serve!
We served this over a bed of wilted arugula (arugula, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and olive oil left to hang out for thirty minutes while everything else cooked) and it was delicious! We laid down the arugula, then the polenta triangles (that were being kept at slightly above room temp in the oven) and then the hot fried olive sauce! So delicious and a really great treat.