A Basil Harvest: Polenta with Anise Basil Tomato Sauce

| August/September 1996

Serves 4 to 6

Polenta is dried Italian corn that is ground a little finer than grits and cooked like cornmeal mush. If you don’t have anise or licorice basil, substitute green basil and add 1 teaspoon of bruised fennel seed. The portabella is a good, meaty mushroom, but any other type of mushroom will do.


• 1 1/2 quarts water
• 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
• 1 1/2 cups polenta


• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 1/3 cups diced red onion
• 1 medium stalk celery, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced, about 1/2 cup
• 1 medium carrot, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced, about 1/2 cup
• 1 large portabella mushroom, stem removed, halved and cut into slices, about 11/2 cups
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 28-ounce can crushed or chopped tomatoes or about 2 pounds fresh tomatoes, peeled and pureed
• 1 cup anise or licorice basil leaves, coarsely chopped
• 1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional)
• Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
• 1/2 cup anise or licorice basil leaves, cut crosswise into thin strips

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