comfort food: farinata, a polenta delight

WE CALL IT MUSH, my friend Marco and I do, but not in any disparaging way. When the night’s headed into the 20s and you’ve been out in the 40s raking all day, what you want is just that: stick-to-your-ribs warmth; comfort served in a big bowl, using a big spoon. More molten than soupy, farinata is pure peasant food–nothing more than cornmeal, water, and some kale or cabbage, brought to life with garlic, olive oil and Parmesan cheese.


USE KALE, cabbage or another green if you prefer, to make this Italian-style porridge that’s quick, filling and perfect for those of us who consider such things as soupy polenta to be comfort food—and also love garlic. (Count me in on both scores.) This recipe was inspired by something a friend scribbled down from the old public-television show “Cucina Amore.”



  • ½ lb. kale or cabbage or mix
  • 6 cups water or vegetable broth (if the broth is salted, or you like a lot of Parmesan, adjust salt below)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ¾ cup polenta (cornmeal); organic recommended to insure it’s GMO-free
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 cloves minced or grated garlic, or to taste
  • ¼ to ½ cup olive oil (with extra for garnish)


Wash and chop the greens; I use a coarse chiffonade cut (above photo), removing the toughest stem bits first.

Meantime, bring salted water (see above note) or stock to a rolling boil.

Reduce heat, cover, and simmer the greens until barely tender, just a few minutes, in the water or stock.

Gradually whisk in the cornmeal.

Cook on simmer until creamy, about 10 minutes.

Fold in the garlic, cheese and the oil; remove from heat.

Serve immediately in bowls garnished with more oil and pepper. Serves three (or two with seconds). When eating alone, I halve the recipe, and it’s a heaping portion and then some.

For me, a big bowlful is a meal–perhaps with a salad. For guests who eat meat? Grilled Italian-style sausages would make a perfect side dish.

November 5, 2012


  1. Anna says

    Sounds delicious. Can you use just regular cornmeal, or do you have to buy polenta. I love the idea of turnip greens. We grow tons of kale each year, but turnip greens blanched, frozen and then sauteed with olive oil and garlic is my new favorite green. Sounds wonderful.

  2. Anna says

    Just found polenta in the pantry and made it. Amazing how such a simple handful of ingredients can be turned into something so delicious, so quickly. Thanks for this recipe. Will keep it with me for the rest of my years. Perhaps you need to begin thinking about a cookbook!

  3. says

    Hi Margaret,
    This sounds divine. I love all the elements, but unfortunately can’t eat cheese. How do you think it would be if I made it without? Or can you suggest some other ingredient to substitute or compensate for no cheese? Thank you.

  4. pat says

    Yum ! I can not wait to try this ! It looks like a big bowl of comfort . The next storm is scheduled to come in tonight and I can be tucked in with good food and some wine !

  5. Amy Hitzig says

    Thank you for this recipe! I made this last night as our temperatures were steadily dropping from 20′s to single digits following a gray snowy day. We thoroughly enjoyed it, so much that I reheated it this morning and served it with poached eggs nestled in it! Very satisfactory.

  6. Jeanne says

    Since I have garlic cloves from in season frozen in smallish portions in olive oil I threw LOTS of them whole in the boiling broth along with the chopped stems and cooked that a couple of minutes before proceeding with the recipe. At the end I just added some more of the garlic oil. So it was truly yummy garlicky:-D My husband loves things spicy so he added both black pepper and red pepper flakes to his bowl.
    As a side note I ate the leftovers cold the next day as it was warm out, and that was just as good…so this will be an all seasons recipe for us.Thank you so much for sharing!

leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *