Polenta has a reputation of blandness.  It's a well earned reputation, so you have to build flavour into the dish. IMG_0522

First, bring salted water to a boil.  You can also use veg stock to provide more taste.  Polenta varies in terms of firmness.  Since this will be fried, this dish needs enough cornmeal so that it's not porridge.

Slowly add the cornmeal to the boiling water while stirring.  Or, if you're crazy enough to try to hold a camera and take photos while cooking, you'll need to whisk the mixture to remove the lumps.  Boil for about a minute or two, until it's thick and begins to "blurp."  Then allow to cool and set firm.

Once cooled, remove from the pan and slice into workable chunks.  (It helps to wet the knife before cutting.)  Sear both sides of the polenta in olive oil.

Garnish and serve with flavourful pairings.  I chose the creamy sharpness of goat cheese; the also tangy, yet sweet, aged balsamic; savoury, bright tomatoes and the mildly pungent thyme.

This can easily be made vegan by substituting or omitting the chèvre.  Mixed olives would be an ideal alternate.