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Create a Polenta Buffet Bar

Polenta, which is also known as Grits, is nothing more than hulled and coarsely ground, dried corn. Polenta in Latin means "fine flour" and dating back to Roman Times it was termed as "gruel" or "mush". Polenta offers versatility as it can be served hot for breakfast such as porridge or cooled in a loaf pan and simply baked, fried or grilled for lunch or simmered with water for dinner. Polenta is a popular food in Northern and Central Italy and still today it is a staple of traditional, Southern Americana cooking.

The next time you find yourself hosting a book club gathering, school social or a baseball team banquet, try creating a Polenta Bar. Offering a self serve, buffet makes it super easy on the host as the cooking can be well executed ahead. Many of the toppings below require just minimal effort of time from purchased to placed-out at your buffet. For a carefree

entertaining option, cook your Polenta (directions below) several hours earlier and surround this creamy, soft main staple with a multitude of toppings such as vegetables, proteins, legumes, sauces, herbs, that you

like! Polenta holds up in flavor and texture to this very large array of culinary offerings (I cannot think of another food that can do the same).


The benefits...Polenta is gluten-free and even your pickiest eaters can find many options that pleases their palates.


Polenta Cooking directions: serves 6 (easily can multiply)

12 Cups of water

3 Cups of dry polenta (look for finer grains)

Simmer this on low heat for 5 minutes. Continue to stir (this is what creates the silky taste)as cooking until thick.

Add a pinch of salt and garlic powder.

Add on 8 ounce container of mascarpone. Gentle fold this in until well integrated.

Add polenta to a pre-heated slow cooker on warm. Polenta will keep its temperature and texture for hours until the last serving is scooped!


Wonderful pairings that enhance Polenta:

  • Pesto

  • Mariana

  • Grated Parmesan cheese

  • Feta

  • Queso Fresco

  • Pine nuts

  • Sunflower seeds

  • Sautéed mushrooms (my favorite)

  • Sautéed roasted peppers

  • Sautéed spinach

  • Grilled asparagus

  • Oven roasted or sautéed Kale

  • Steamed broccoli

  • Carmelized leeks and onion (my second favorite)

  • Fennel

  • Cumin lentils

  • Black/red beans

  • Grilled shrimp, chicken/steak

  • Scallions

  • Slices Kalamata olives

  • Strips of basil

  • Strips of cilantro

  • Hot sauce

Position slow cooker of Polenta first at your buffet line. Get creative, layer in varying bowls, platters and vessels of colors and shapes that build visual interest to your buffet presentation. I promise two things...there won't be much polenta left over and your polenta-inspired event will be highly



If you have any kitchen questions or meal requests...please email those to

me directly. From entertaining options, make-ahead breakfasts, like-able lunches to simple suppers, I'm here to help! I now offer cooking classes to small groups or one on one sessions.

Cook from your heart,

Melinda Davidson

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