Monday, April 16, 2012

What to Make When you Have Nothing to Cook With

I haven't been to the store in two weeks. Shameful I know. Especially when I really love grocery shopping. I'm not joking. Absolute truth. I get so excited by the prospects of what will be when I get all those fresh ingredient home from the grocery, I almost can't contain myself and usually end up spending too much money. Reasons why being a personal chef and caterer is perfect - I am guaranteed LOTS of grocery shopping in my future. (Stifles excited giggles.)

Conversely, I also get really excited when I have limited items to work with, as was the case this weekend. Being a good cook isn't just about making things taste good, but also about how you utilize your ingredients and make them be the best versions of themselves. Somehow I was able to make cornmeal, canned tomatoes, and chunk tuna into a satisfying and filling Italian-inspired dinner.

Parsley polenta, stewed basil tomatoes, topped with chunk tuna fish.

I was able to use the left overs the next day to make crispy polenta cakes with tomato sauce!

Parsley Polenta

1 cup water or chicken broth
1 cup milk (I used skim)
1/2 cup yellow or white cornmeal (medium or finely ground)
1/3 cup freshly chopped parsley (bonus points if it is Italian flat leaf parsley)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Combine the water and milk in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir in cornmeal with a whisk slowly to prevent lump-age. Continue to cook until mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Take polenta off the heat and stir in parsley and cheese (if mixture is too thick, add a splash of scalded milk.) Season with salt and pepper.


  1. You may be the first person that I've ever heard say "I love grocery shopping" :)

    That being said, I think I can see why you do - because the results are all of these amazing dishes!!

    1. I'm a strange one, what can I say? I really do like it. When I was still in high school, grocery shopping was one of my weekly chores. I would plan the menu, clip the coupons, make the grocery list, and shop every week. I thought it was all great fun, and now that I have really become an advocate for Farmers' Markets, I find it even more fun!

    2. I try to avoid it at all costs, but that's mainly just because I have such a hard time finding the time for it that when I do go I have to spend forever there. I actually need to go to Sam's Club this weekend to stock up on some things. Hey would you mind shooting me an email at so that I have your email addy?