I grew up in a polenta-less world. My mom dislikes it, my boyfriend hates the stuff, and I had really never tasted it until college when I discovered that if you mash up the pre-cooked variety that comes in a tube and then eat it with a hot dog, it tastes just like a corn dog. I’m so embarrassed to admit this but you have to start somewhere, right?
Throughout the years, I’ve experimented with polenta a bit, but again, not too much because it really seems like no one in my life would be able to share it with me. Lately though, I just can’t get its soft texture, versatility and perfect hint of sweetness out of my mind.
So rather than taking out my frustration by frosting my boyfriend’s next birthday cake with polenta as a terrible joke, I decided to pull out all the stops and make a convincing polenta that will please even the pickiest of guests at the Easter table. And you especially will love it because its make-ahead nature will leave you feeling stress-free in the kitchen on Easter day. Green onions give it a wonderful, spring-like flavor boost, while milk and Parmesan make it hearty enough to stand up to the ham that it’s accompanying. A chive ricotta topping brings it home—and what’s that, polenta haters? You want another serving?
Here’s how to make it.
Start by assembling your ingredients: olive oil, green onions, cornmeal, whole milk, kosher salt, Parmesan and ricotta cheese, eggs and chives. Then spray a 13x9-inch (3-quart) broiler-proof baking dish with cooking spray.
In 4-quart Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add green onions; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add milk, water and 1 1/2 teaspoons of the salt; heat to boiling, stirring occasionally. Still over medium heat, slowly add cornmeal, stirring constantly with whisk until mixture thickens, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in pepper, Parmesan cheese and half of the chives. If desired, taste and adjust seasonings.
For ricotta topping, in medium bowl, stir together ricotta cheese, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, remaining half of the chives and the eggs. Cover; refrigerate until ready to use. (This can also be made a day ahead or the day of.)
Bake about 40 minutes or until thoroughly heated. (If using a broiler-proof dish and you’d like to brown the top, you can set it under the broiler for a few minutes.) Cool slightly before slicing and serving.