Polenta isn't only a northern and central Italian dish. Nor does it need a rich accompaniment of meat or dairy. Try this soft southern style, inspired by how my nonna used to make it - with a tomato sugo. Pure simplicity, pure comfort.
Nonna would layer soft polenta with a simple passata sauce. Food of that era in the south was basic yet nourishing, filling and flavourful. Tucking into a bowl of this, the warmth flows through you. Be liberal with the sugo - polenta greedily soaks up all the sauce it can handle. Recipe from A Vegan Summer in Southern Italy.
Soft Polenta with Tomato Sugo (Polenta al sugo)
Serves 4 mains | 40 minutes
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, crushed
400g tomato passata
1 teaspoon salt
few basil leaves, optional
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups polenta
3 tablespoons olive oil or vegan butter
4 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes or vegan parmesan + extra to serve
In a medium pot, heat the oil on low and fry the garlic for 1-2 minutes, being careful not to burn. Pour in the passata, salt and basil, if using. Cover and simmer on low while you cook the polenta.
In a large pot, bring 8 cups of water to the boil, along with the salt. Once boiling, start whisking the water and then slowly pour in the polenta while you continue to whisk. Lower the heat and continue to stir until there are no lumps.
Cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the polenta grains have softened. Take off the heat and hand-beat in the butter or oil and nutritional yeast or parmesan.
Spoon the polenta into serving bowls, then generously pour over the sugo. Or to do this Nonna-style, make a layer of polenta and spoon over some sugo, then spread over another layer of polenta and finish with more sugo.
Garnish with vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast.