Rice, I’m so over it

I am so sick of rice. I mean seriously sick of it. For health reasons I try to follow a gluten-free diet as much as possible. Which means I eat a lot of rice. I do my best to mix it up with quinoa, potato, bean or corn-based products but that is a bit difficult to do here. If I wasn’t such a carboholic then this wouldn’t be as much of an issue, but I am.

Last week I was dying for something not rice-based. I discovered polenta at Lulu Hypermarket. I LOVE polenta. When I lived in Oregon I usually just bought the pre-made kind, which I haven’t found here. But this box of polenta was like an open door to freedom from rice.

I made up a batch and was able to get two different meals out of it and about four days worth of food. I was ecstatic. While I was cooking the polenta, I realized I didn’t have any “toppings” for it. So I mixed up a little homemade tomato sauce. I’m telling you this because I’m very proud of myself! And also because food is a super important part of my life and after all, this blog is about my life.

I love cooking, I enjoy baking and trying new things in the kitchen, generally I follow a recipe (most often from the gluten-free goddess) but this time I just went for it. And in a country where you have to sign a release of liability in order to get a doggie-bag of your dinner, cooking at home is very appealing.

Two-Meal Polenta by Andrea

  • 4 cups water or broth (I used water with a bouillon cube)
  • 1 cup polenta (I used Biona but Bob’s Red Mill is great if you are in the US)

Boil water/broth. Slowly add polenta while stirring. Stir continuously until water is absorbed and polenta is thick. Just before it is finished add:

  • Dash of sea salt
  • Fresh cracked pepper (to taste)
  • Italian herbs (dried) to taste
  • 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese

Meal #1: Dish freshly made soft polenta into a bowl and top with your favorite Italian style topping. I topped mine with my homemade tomato sauce (recipe follows) and some more mozzarella.

Soft polenta with tomato sauce.

Soft polenta with tomato sauce.

Meal #2: Spread warm polenta evenly into a baking pan (the larger the dish the thinner the polenta). I used a small pan with foil lining (thought parchment paper would be better). Cover and when cool enough put in the fridge overnight. The following day, remove the polenta from the pan and cut into squares (or any shape). Heat a small amount of olive oil and fry the pieces of the polenta until each side is browned and crispy. Again, top with your favorite Italian topping.

I didn't have parchment paper.

I didn’t have parchment paper.

Just before cutting into pieces.

Just before cutting into pieces.

Frying the polenta.

Frying the polenta.

Quick tomato sauce: Dice small onion and sauté, add 3 cloves of chopped garlic. When sauté is complete, add a small can of chopped tomatoes. Slowly simmer until thick.

Second polenta meal.

Second polenta meal.


About Andrea

I am teacher and traveler blogging my experiences living as an expat from the USA. From 2007-2012 I lived and worked in Oregon, USA. From 2012 (when I started blogging) to 2014, I lived and worked in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. In August 2014 I begin living and working in Santa Ana, Costa Rica.
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