Serves 6 to 8

Notes

Polenta with a little fish was one of the mainstays in the diet of the poor in northern Italy. I have talked to Piemontesi who recall passing salted anchovies around the table and dipping them in the firm polenta, to flavor it and make them last longer.

 In Vicenza, on the other hand, they used salted or smoked herring, and chopped it up. A little went a long way. Here I give you two options—sardines or anchovies—both delicious. Sardines and anchovies are packed with flavor, and a little goes a long way.

Ingredients

  • polenta
  • 1 tablespoon -extra--virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups polenta
  • 1 cup chopped scallions
  • sardines
  • Two 3-¾--ounce tins skinless, boneless sardines in oil, drained
  • ¼ cup -extra--virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed -red--pepper flakes
  • anchovies
  • ¼ cup -extra--virgin olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 12 anchovy fillets
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed -red--pepper flakes
Lidia’s Commonsense Italian Cooking

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Lidia’s Commonsense Italian Cooking

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Directions

For the polenta: In a large pot, bring 8 cups of water, the olive oil, and salt to a boil. Once the water is simmering, sprinkle in the polenta in handfuls, while whisking to avoid lumps. Take your time sprinkling in the polenta, and whisk well, until all is added and there are no lumps. Bring to a simmer again, and let perk (bubbles will burst forth here and there from the top as the polenta thickens; you want to simmer, not boil). Cook and stir until the polenta is thick and glossy and pulls away from the sides of the pot as you stir, about 30 minutes. Add the chopped scallions. Cover, and keep warm while you make one of the toppings.

For the sardines: Break up the fish into large chunks in a bowl. Add the oil, lemon juice, parsley, and -red–pepper flakes, and toss gently. Serve the polenta in a shallow bowl, with the sardine mixture over the top.

For the anchovies: In a medium skillet, over -medium–high heat, heat the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the garlic. Once the garlic is sizzling, add the anchovies. Cook and stir until they dissolve into the oil, about 2 minutes, then add the wine. Bring to a simmer, and cook until reduced by about half, 3 or 4 minutes. Stir in the parsley and -red–pepper flakes. Serve the polenta in a shallow bowl, with the anchovy sauce poured on top.

Lidia’s Commonsense Italian Cooking

Cookbook

Lidia’s Commonsense Italian Cooking

buy now