I grew up in an Italian household, we only ever ate Italian food, despite living in Britain. I was used to eating all the staples of Southern Italy, and polenta was one of my favourites, despite being more commonly associated with Northerners informally or even a little derogatorily amongst Italians, Polentoni! When baked it is crunchy and nutty in flavour, and can be used as a pasta substitute if you prefer a wheat-free or gluten-free diet. It can also simply be boiled, it sets on the plate when cooled. If you like various pasta sauces, like ai funghi (with mushrooms) al pomodoro (with tomato) or bianca (with only pepper, garlic, extra-virgin olive oil and chilli flakes), you can add them to polenta instead (or as well) for a change.
Polenta is semi-fine cornmeal, a little rough in texture, mixed with hot water. It is a staple in many country’s cuisine because corn is (or was) in abundance in some parts of Europe, India and Eastern Asia. I was surprised to discover on a trip to Indonesia, that polenta was a staple food item on the breakfast menu, served instead of bread. So I thought I’d share a similar alternative breakfast option with you here.
If you want to know how to prepare polenta, see my Oven-Baked Pizza Galla recipe (coming soon!), it’s so simple.
Polenta, pre-cooked and cooled, 2-3 slices
Halloumi cheese, sliced, 4-5 slices
Fresh arugula leaves, a handful
Cherry tomatoes, 4-5
Extra-virgin olive oil, a drizzle
Balsamic vinegar, a drizzle
Cayenne pepper, a pinch
Sea salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
If the polenta is cooked and cooled, only 5-10 minutes.
1. Slice the polenta by cutting into squares (similar in appearance to slices of bread) and season to your tastes. Place it in the centre of the plate ready for the open sandwich topping.
2. Slice the avocado and other salad items and set aside for later.
3. Slice the halloumi cheese and grill (on a griddle is best so you get those toasted grill marks, you can use them as a guide of how grilled it needs to be). I don’t oil the griddle for halloumi because the oils from this cheese are enough to prevent it from sticking to the griddle, but by all means, grill as you prefer.
4. Finally, arrange the halloumi and avocado salad on top of the polenta slice(s), garnish with herbs and favour with fizzles of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Drizzle with coconut oil for sustained energy. Coconut oil has the wonderful quality of reducing that spike in your GI (Glycemic Index) levels. In short, that means it extends the length of time you feel satiated after eating. Add coconut oil (instead of or as a substitute) to your breakfast meals if you have an especially busy day ahead and need the added energy.