Crispy Polenta "Taters" with Marinara Sauce

In my opinion, polenta is so under-rated! Not only is it quick and easy to make (ok, I'm referring to instant polenta here) but it's also very versatile and lends itself to so many spice and herb adaptations.

I made a fresh pot of homemade marinara yesterday...most of it was jarred and ready to store but I set a little aside to spread onto the polenta pizza I made for my husband and I.  Although our pizza was delicious, it would have been a bit messy for my son to eat (without a fork) so I cut his portion into bite-sized cubes (or "taters" as I like to call them) and served them with marinara dipping sauce!

(You might notice that in the photos everything is super-sized compared the amount required in the actual recipe...the first time I made this recipe I used the portions below, while this time I cooked my son's portion along with ours.)

2 cups water
1/2 cup instant cornmeal
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese (optional)
pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste (optional)

Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan.
Reduce to low for 2 minutes then slowly pour in cornmeal.  Stir constantly (otherwise you'll end up with lumpy polenta!) for about 2-3 minutes or until the polenta is dense enough that it comes away from the sides of the pan.

Take off heat and quickly stir in parmesan, nutmeg, and salt and pepper if desired.
Pour into a biscotti pan or a small baking sheet. Spread out evenly and smooth with a spatula coated with cooking spray.

Leave in the fridge for at least 2 hours until cooled and firm.

Remove from fridge and cut into desired portion size.

Heat 1 tbsp. of extra-virgin olive oil in a pan on medium-heat for about 1 minute.
Add the polenta "taters" and cook for 2-3 minutes, tossing often to ensure that each "tater" browns evenly!

Serve alone, with melted cheese, a sprinkle of Parmesan or some freshly made  marinara sauce!

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