Polenta is the much loved ‘mashed potatoes’ of northern Italy, a delicious comfort food to many Italians that is now enjoyed around the world. In this recipe, Parmesan-flavoured ‘soft’ polenta – polenta that hasn't been left to set – provides the topping for a mixture of borlotti beans and a creamy wild mushroom sauce.
Replace the borlotti beans with canned pinto or cannellini beans. * Spread 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) spinach, steamed, well drained and coarsely chopped, over the mushroom sauce before adding the beans. * To make baked polenta with tuna, soften 2 chopped celery sticks, 2 chopped carrots and 1 chopped onion in the oil and butter. Stir in the flour, then gradually stir in 250 ml (8½ fl oz) vegetable stock and 120 ml (4 fl oz) semi-skimmed milk. Bring to the boil, stirring, and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add 2 cans tuna in spring water, about 200 g each, well drained, and stir gently, just to break up the large chunks of fish. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Prepare the polenta as in the main recipe, but omit the Parmesan. Pour the fish mixture into an ovenproof dish, cover with the polenta and sprinkle with 1 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan. Bake as in the main recipe.
Polenta is very versatile: it can be served ‘soft’ with fish, meat and vegetable dishes as an alternative to pasta or rice, or it can be left to set, then cut up and grilled or fried. It is particularly useful for those who need to follow a wheat or gluten-free diet. * Milk is one of our most nourishing foods, being rich in calcium and protein as well as providing many B vitamins and phosphorus. * The oil obtained from olives is high in monounsaturated fatty acids. These healthy fats are believed to help lower blood cholesterol levels.
copper * B2, B12, niacin, calcium, potassium, selenium, zinc * A, B1, B6, folate, iron