This easy recipe for polenta with corn and thyme pairs sweet corn with creamy polenta and fresh thyme for a side dish brimming with flavor!
why we love this recipe
Polenta! I think of it as the neglected side dish.
Sure, potatoes and rice are all wonderful in their ways, but they get all the love and attention, side dish-wise, and that poor old box of cornmeal sits neglected on the shelf day after day…so here I am to speak up for polenta in all its easy, creamy, dreamy wonderfulness.
Basic polenta is a snap to make, and this easy recipe, a couple of handfuls of corn, along with a some butter and Parmesan cheese and fresh herbs takes it over the top.
what is polenta?
Polenta is a dish of boiled cornmeal that originated in Italy. It is made from ground cornmeal (either white or yellow) and is cooked in boiling water or broth, stirring until it thickens. It can be served immediately as a hot porridge, or it can be allowed to cool and solidify into a loaf that can be baked, fried, or grilled.
In other good polenta news, it’s a good source of fiber, iron, and it’s gluten-free! And did I mention it’s delicious?
ingredients you need
ingredient notes and substitutions
- Cornmeal: You can find this in various places in your supermarket – sometimes in the international aisle, sometimes in the baking aisle – one way or another, it’s there! Sometimes it is literally labeled as polenta, but usually it’s called fine cornmeal.
- Corn: Fresh corn is AMAZING in this recipe, but you can use thawed frozen corn in a pinch.
- Thyme: This delightful herb can be found in the produce section, but feel free to swap it out for basil or fresh oregano.
how to make this recipe
STEP ONE: Grab that lonely box of cornmeal (you can use any kind, just make sure it’s the fine-ground kind. Otherwise you will be making grits, which are also wonderful, but we’re after polenta here!).
STEP 2: Boil up some water mixed with milk, and whisk, whisk, whisk in the cornmeal. You’ll want to stir it for about five minutes until it is smooth and creamy.
STEP 3: Now comes the part that takes it from good to great: toss in about one cup of corn kernels (fresh if you can find it), some butter and a handful of grated Parmesan cheese.
STEP 4: A little salt and pepper to taste, and finally, about a tablespoon of fresh thyme.
Pro Tip: In addition to being a delectable side dish, you can swap out polenta for pasta in many dishes. We especially love a bed of polenta for meatballs, or even just with some chunky tomato sauce on top.
Spread a dishtowel out on your counter (this is to catch the runaway kernels that like to bounce away), put a shallow bowl on the cloth and firmly hold the top of the ear of corn in one hand in the center of the bowl – it doesn’t matter which end. Use a paring knife in a zig-zag motion to cut the kernels off in strips until you have gotten all the kernels off.
Nope, you need to make it right before you serve it, or else the polenta will become more and more solid, and we are going for creamy here. But happily it takes almost no time to make!
Pop your question (or comment, or suggestion) in the Comments section below and I will answer pronto!
want to round out your meal?
It’s also a fun replacement for pasta with whatever topping you would usually put on spaghetti – check out this recipe for Tomato Mozzarella Polenta!
other polenta recipes we love
Looking for more side dish inspiration? Here is our complete collection of side dish recipes!
could you leave us some stars?
If you try this recipe, we would love to hear how it came out for you! I’d be super grateful if you could leave a star rating (you pick how many stars! 🌟 ) and your thoughts in the Comments section.Print