Polenta Cutlets With Olives

Serves 4 as a main dish, 8 as a side dish

Prep time: 30 minutes

Sitting time: 20 minutes

Baking time: 20 minutes

½ cup chopped onions

2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed

½ tsp salt

1 Tbs olive oil

¼ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes (not oil-packed)

8 to 12 pitted and chopped kalamata or other black olives

1 cup cornmeal

2 cups water or vegetable stock

¼ cup grated Parmesan, mozzarella, or provolone (optional)

  1. In a saucepan, sauté the onions, garlic, and salt in the olive oil on medium heat for about 10 minutes, until the onions are golden. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and the olives and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the cornmeal and stir just until the mixture is dry, less than 1 minute.
  2. Slowly pour in the water or stock and stir briskly until the polenta thickens. Simmer, stirring frequently, until the polenta is creamy (see Note). Pour the polenta onto an oiled baking sheet or baking pans to about ¾-inch thickness. Spread with a rubber spatula for even thickness. Set aside to cool for about 20 minutes. The polenta will thicken as it cools.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375˚F.
  4. With a table knife, cut the polenta into squares, rectangles, diamonds, or other shapes. With a spatula, transfer the cutlets to a lightly oiled baking sheet and place them about an inch apart. Bake for 15 minutes. For a golden crust, turn the cutlets over, brush lightly with oil, and bake for 5 minutes longer or, if you like, sprinkle the cutlets with grated cheese for the last 5 minutes of baking.
  5. Note: For cutlets, make thick polenta that can still be poured. The amount of water needed and the cooking time will depend on the cornmeal used. Finely ground cornmeal might be done after just a few minutes of simmering; coarsely ground and stone-ground cornmeal’s may need to simmer for up to 45 minutes. Add more hot water during cooking if the polenta becomes too thick.
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