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Poulenta - Ionian Polenta

Poulenta - yes, it sounds like the Italian polenta because it’s pretty much the same thing -- is a traditional Greek recipe of the Ionian islands, where the Venetians ruled for 400 years and left their mark on the local cuisine. Extra virgin Greek olive oil goes into this yummie Greek comfort food, which can be served on its own or as an accompaniment to almost any type of stew or braised dish. I like to serve it with Eggplant skordostoumbi. You can add some Greek feta to this dish, too, and if you do, look for the real thing, with the PDO (protected designation of origin) stamp on the package!

Course dinner, Lunch
Cuisine Greek, Greek cuisine, Mediterranean diet
Keyword cornmeal, Diane Kochilas, feta cheese, Ionian islands, polenta, poulenta
PREP TIME 5 minutes
COOK TIME 30 minutes
SERVES 6

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin Greek olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 to 6 garlic cloves to taste, very finely chopped
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 cups coarse stone-ground yellow cornmeal preferably organic
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
  • ½ - 1 cup crumbled Greek feta optional

Instructions

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat and cook the garlic until
  2. soft but not browned, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  3. Bring the water and salt to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the cornmeal slowly, in a very thin stream, whisking vigorously as you do this to form a thick, dense mass.

  4. Once it has been incorporated, pour in the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil and add the cooked garlic. Reduce the heat to low and keep stirring the mixture until it is thick and creamy, 20 to 30 minutes. When the mixture begins to pull away from the pot, it is ready. Serve immediately, drizzled with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and the butter, and topped with crumbled feta, if desired. You can also whisk some feta into the polenta to make it extra creamy.