The first time I tried Polenta I was 11 years old, my first year in Switzerland. I remember seeing these enormous vats of polenta, being stirred constantly by a mechanical arm. To tell you the truth, it really didn’t look very appetizing. It looked like a big mass of yellow mush. Then I tried it. I’ve been hooked since.
I love the versatility of polenta. It can be eaten soft, or left to harden then baked or fried. It allows you to top it with an infinite nuber of possibilities, savory or sweet. Buckwheat Polenta, or as they call it in Italy, Polenta Taragna, is quite different. It has a saltier and denser quality, and usually it is eaten only with savory, and with a final addition of Bitto cheese. In Lombaridia, the region where Milano is capital, there is an area called Valtellina. This is the northern alpine area, and buckwheat is used in many recipes, two of the most famous being this polenta and a type of pasta called Pizzocheri. They are both some of my favorites, but for my belly it needs to be quite cool to eat this since it is much more filling than normal pasta and polenta varieties. That said, it is also a heck of a lot more nutritious too!
On my last trip to Lugano, I brought back some of this polenta, and finally the weather cooled down enough for me to make some. I have a few friends here who are die-hard fans of polenta, so I wanted to introduce this variety to them. I chose to top it with a creamy gorgonzola sauce, and some toasted walnuts. If you are so lucky to find some, make sure you get the express variety, which cooks in about 5 minutes. If not, you will have to stand over the stove and CONTINUOUSLY stir the polenta for 40-50 minutes! (I haven’t had an arm workout like this in years.) But, the end result is well worth the exercise, and throughout the process, I was channeling my inner nonna.
So, here’s what you’re going to need:
500 g Polenta Taragna (or regular polenta if you can’t find it)
250 g Gorgonzola Dolce Cheese
200 ml cream
Salt, Pepper and Freshly Grated Nutmeg to taste
100g Walnuts, toasted
Cook polenta according to package directions. In a small saucepan over medium low heat, add the cream and gorgonzola cheese, stirring until it melts. Take off heat and add the salt, pepper and nutmeg. Keep warm.
In a small frying pan, toast the walnuts until darkened and fragrant. Take off heat.
On a plate, heap some polenta on it, then drizzle as much cream sauce as you want ( I like a lot) and top with the toasted walnuts.
It’s that easy and it’s even more delicious!
From my kitchen to yours,