The Versatile Trader Joe's Polenta You Should Keep Stocked In Your Pantry

Trader Joe's famously carries its own line of products, ranging from frozen meals to baked goods. One staple that should make its way to your pantry is its organic polenta. For those not in the know, polenta is ground-up cornmeal. It's a dish that originated in Northern Italy, and it can now be found in many Italian American meals. When cooked, polenta has a soft and creamy texture, similar to porridge or oatmeal.

What makes polenta appealing for many people, besides its deliciousness, is its versatility. Polenta can be baked, sautéed, grilled, and even fried. While you can make your own polenta, Trader Joe's can help you save on the time and hassle of doing so, considering that making polenta can take almost an hour. For just a couple of bucks, Trader Joe's promises its 18-ounce tube of pre-cooked, shelf-stable polenta will provide "a quick, three-step process of slice, heat, and serve."

How to cook with polenta

Polenta is typically served as the base for a meal, swapped in for rice or pasta. But Trader Joe's pre-cooked polenta is perfect for whipping up polenta fries, which is a popular way to use the food. Since the polenta comes in a tube, you can easily slice it into sticks resembling french fries. Prepare and bake the polenta fries as you would standard french fries. Season them with pepper and spices, such as parsley. Sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on top of the fries for extra cheesy goodness.

Sure, you could turn Trader Joe's polenta into a typical porridge-like side dish for your next meal. But the tubed polenta offers enough versatility to be turned into nearly anything. For breakfast, try turning polenta into a hot "oatmeal" or cereal dish topped with fruits, nuts, or cinnamon. Layer polenta slices alongside cheese slices in a cheesy corn casserole for an extra kick of flavor.

Trader Joe's fans praise its polenta

Trader Joe's organic polenta is a popular product among its shoppers. On social media, there exist several threads of people raving about the dish. "I wonder if eating nothing but Trader Joe's polenta qualifies as a diet," one person tweeted. "It's seriously the best thing I've ever eaten." One Reddit user praised its affordability, versatility, and ease to cook with. And with praises for Trader Joe's polenta also come several recipe suggestions.

While Trader Joe's has its own tips on cooking polenta — microwaving, baking, and even pan-frying it — fans of the grocery-store chain have also shared several recipes on Reddit. One user recommended serving polenta up as a sweet treat by sautéing it in butter and then drizzling maple syrup onto it. For a more savory dish, they also suggested sautéing it in spices like garlic and herbs, then topping the dish with pine nuts. Alternatively, you could incorporate polenta into pasta sauce paired with meatballs and vegetables, or you could even put it in a beef stew to make a hearty meal.