A cross between soft polenta and steel-cut oatmeal topped with a blackberry compote, and it’s easily vegan.
The idea of corn as a sweet – or semi-sweet – food was a foreign concept to me for a long time. Growing up, corn was always a savory food at our table. Corn on the cob was always my favorite, but I’d be happy with corn in bowls of pasta, in soup, etc.
It wasn’t until I started experimenting with cornmeal pancakes that I realized how delicious corn is in salty-sweet combinations. Then last year I shared a recipe for cornbread muffins, which – despite being made without sugar – are darn tasty smothered in honey.
But the idea of adding sweet berries to my corn creations? That was a step to far… until it wasn’t.
After seeing cornbread pancakes topped with blueberries and blackberries on Pinterest, and then these cranberry-topped cornmeal pancakes, it seemed the world (or at least the Internet) was sending me a message: try corn with berries.
So I finally tried adding blueberries to some cornbread pancakes. Delicious! And, as you can see, I didn’t stop there with the berry-corn combination. Which brings me to today’s recipe: a cross between steel-cut oatmeal and soft polenta topped with a fruity blackberry compote.
Polenta generally refers to a medium-grind yellow cornmeal, but it also refers to a dish. For this recipe, we’re after the cornmeal (which has a similar texture to sand) – so make sure you don’t use ‘prepared polenta’, or a roll of polenta, or anything like that.
The porridge is flavored simply with salt, honey or maple syrup, and corn kernels. I like to add quite a big pinch of salt to emphasize the whole savory-sweet feel of corn and berries (and to make sure the porridge doesn’t seem too bland).
Even though I generally think maple syrup is 100 times better than honey, in this case, honey is ideal since it adds a lot more flavor. But if you’d like this breakfast to be vegan, make sure you stick to maple syrup.
And, last but not least, if you’re not used to corn and berries together, then try to keep an open mind!
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup polenta cornmeal
- ¼ cup steel-cut oats
- Pinch of salt
- ½ cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
- ¼ cup applesauce
- 1 - 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup (optional)
- 1 cup frozen blackberries
- 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- ½ teaspoon lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a saucepan, bring the almond milk and water to a boil, and then turn down the heat to low. Gradually pour in the polenta cornmeal while stirring continuously. Add the steel-cut oats and salt, and stir well.
- Stir in the corn kernels and applesauce.
- Cook the porridge for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently, or until the grains have softened considerably but are not completely cooked. As the porridge is cooking, add more almond milk if it seems too dry.
- Stir in the maple syrup or honey (if using). Continue cooking the porridge while preparing the blackberry compote.
- In another saucepan, combine the frozen blackberries, honey or maple syrup, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla extract. Cook for 8 – 10 minutes, or until the blackberries are warm and the liquid has reduced.
- Once the porridge is soft and creamy and the blackberries are warm, divide the porridge between two bowls, and top with the blackberry compote.
Polenta is a medium-grind yellow cornmeal.
I like to add a big pinch of salt to this porridge, so it's more of a savory-sweet breakfast.
Make it vegan and/or gluten free
To make this porridge vegan, use maple syrup instead of honey. For gluten-free eaters, make sure you use certified gluten-free oats.