In northern Italy, wet polenta, a savory corn porridge, is served like mashed potato to soak up the juices from a stew. Polenta takes a long time to cook, and needs stirring throughout, but instant polenta, taking about 5 minutes to make, is now widely available.
Wet polenta can be a meal in its own right, flavored with cheese, pepper and a little virgin olive oil. Chopped vegetables, herbs and olives are other good additions.
Polenta is also frequently served in 'cakes', made by allowing wet polenta to cool and set. This is then cut into squares, slices or triangles and grilled or fried. These cakes, while also served with stews, can make delicious snacks topped with grilled red peppers and tomatoes.
For a substantial snack, cut the set polenta into small circles, take two and sandwich with a slice of mozzarella. Coat in egg and breadcrumbs and fry on both sides until the outside is crispy and the cheese is melted in the center.
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