Polenta is nowadays usually made from coarsely yellow ground maize or corn. It’s the same cornmeal that makes tortilla chips and tacos.
Prior to the corn being introduced from the Americas after the voyage of Christopher Columbus, polenta was made in Italy from starchy ingredients such as chestnut flour, millet, spelt, and chickpeas.
In Italy the boiled maize is usually allowed to cool and solidify into a loaf that can be baked, fried or grilled. It is a gluten-free source of complex carbohydrate and fibre and combines well with ground almonds to make a moreish squidgy consistency for cakes.
The key to ensuring you’re benefiting from polenta’s health qualities is to make sure you are choosing whole-grain maize. This ensures the germ of the maize kernel is still intact. The germ provides fibre, vitamin A, B vitamins, and minerals such as iron and magnesium.