Polenta is coarsely or finely ground yellow or white cornmeal. It is cooked by boiling to a paste in water or a liquid such as soup stock, and may be eaten with other ingredients. After boiling it may be baked or fried; left-over polenta is often used this way.
“Polenta” is originally an Italian word, derived from the Latin for hulled and crushed grain and was not cultivated in Europe until the early 16th century. This nutritive grain – known as grano saraceno is still popular in Tuscany for making polenta near and adds a distinctive flavor that was widely favored for centuries.