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Easy, Cheesy Baked Polenta

Polenta - coarse corn meal - is a family favorite. We eat it at breakfast with eggs; we eat it with sugo crudo, chunky tomato sauce, for dinner. But, I'll be honest, it's a pain to make. Stirring, stirring, and more stirring. It's more labor intensive than risotto.

And, then, there's the pot. Cooked polenta is like super glue. What you don't scoop out of the pot clings to the sides like, well, super glue. The only thing to do: fill up your pot with warm, soapy water and let it soak. If you think it's soaked long enough, soak it for another couple of hours.


But I bought a different brand of polenta yesterday to make my Food Matters Project Fresh Fig-Polenta Cake with Rosemary. And, tonight, when I was reading the recipes on the back, I saw - Enrico's Easy Polenta. I decided to give it a try. Of course I adapted it and changed the proportions a tad. But it was aptly named. It was easy. I might just be cured of my aversion to making polenta. Mix and bake. It's that easy. I have no idea who Enrico is, but if I met him, I might just have to kiss him!

2 C polenta
6 C warm water
2 T olive oil
freshly ground sea salt
freshly ground pepper
1 T dried oregano
1 C shredded cheese
splash of olive oil

Butter a baking dish and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix all of the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Then spoon everything into the baking dish. Bake for an hour, but stir it every twenty minutes. When it's finished, add 1 C shredded cheese - I used a mixture of asiago, parmesan, and mozzarella - and a splash of olive oil. Stir that together until the cheese is completely incorporated.

Spoon the polenta out onto a plate and top it with a little bit more salt and pepper to taste. Remember: whatever you don't eat for dinner, spoon into a clean, buttered pan. It can be sliced and lightly pan-fried in the morning to go under eggs. Che squisito!

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