I bought a bag of posh polenta a couple of months ago and it’s still in the cupboard unopened because I can never be bothered to lovingly stir it for what seems like an age*. Enter instant polenta, which takes little more than five minutes to cook and is hard to get wrong. My soon to be one-year-old daughter loves it with pesto dressing, chopped tomato and leftover roast chicken.
Baby’s pesto polenta
2 tbsp quick polenta
125ml boiling water
1 tbsp grated hard cheese (I use grana padano)
Knob of unsalted butter
1 tsp pesto (homemade is great but shop-bought is fine too, basil, tomato, rocket, it’s all new flavours for baby to try)
1 tsp olive oil
Fresh tomato, chopped
Put a small saucepan over a low heat and pour in 125ml boiling water and two tablespoons of quick-cook polenta. Bring to the boil.
From boiling, set the timer for 5 minutes and stir the polenta constantly with a wooden spoon until the time is up.
Keep the polenta over a low heat while you stir in a knob of butter and finely grated grana padano cheese. If you have leftover roast chicken, tear off a few small strips and stir this in as well.
Take polenta off the heat and leave it to cool a bit before serving to baby.
Whisk a teaspoon of pesto with some olive oil, pour over the polenta, and top with some more grated cheese.
*Regular polenta can be cooked from raw in place of flour, or you can prepare it as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall says in the Guardian: “For four people, allow 1.8 litres of water to 300g of polenta. Bring the water to a boil, throw in a teaspoon of salt and remove from the heat. Put the polenta into a jug and pour into the water in a thin, steady stream, whisking all the time to ensure there are no lumps. Return the pan to the heat, bring it gently to a boil and stir with your long spoon for 10 minutes. Then give it a good, firm stir once a minute or so for 40 minutes. Or you could try making it in the oven – it’s quite a neat trick. After the first 10 minutes of stirring, transfer the polenta to a well-buttered dish, cover with buttered greaseproof paper and a tight layer of foil, and bake at 180C/350F/gas mark 4 for an hour.”
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