Yesterday was bloody freezing. So cold I had no patience to walk to the grocery store after we got back from Thanksgiving weekend at my folks in NJ. Enter polenta — aka comfort food from the pantry. Polenta is so versatile — I could eat it with just olive oil, salt, pepper and cheese, as a breakfast with warm milk and brown sugar or broiled in slices the next day. But this hearty sauce is perfect for a freezing night.
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup cooked cannellini, with cooking liquid (Canned is fine. Or refer to this recipe for an easy way of cooking most beans from scratch.)
.5 cup sundried tomatoes
.5 cup peas
2 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
salt + pepper
hot pepper flakes
parmesan or pecorino
Set three cups of salted water to a rolling boil. Meanwhile, whisk polenta in a bowl with cold water. When the paste is well mixed, stir it into the water, breaking up clumps with a wooden spoon against side of pot. Clean out mixing bowl with a little polenta water and mix into pot. Now set flame to medium low and let polenta cook for about 15 minutes. Stir every few minutes and add boiling water from a tea kettle as needed, if polenta starts to stick to bottom of pot.
Warm olive oil on medium flame in a saute pan. Add peas, tomatoes and red pepper flakes. Let cook for a few minutes until fairly brown — stir only occasionally. Now add beans (with some cooking liquid), garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. Let bubble, then cook for about 10 minutes until garlic is soft. Adjust seasonings to taste.
Serve polenta in soup bowls. Top with a dash of olive oil and freshly grated parmesan or pecorino.