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Saffron and Pistachio Polenta

Scott Phillips

Servings: 8

Golden saffron and fragrant pistachios add a Middle Eastern nuance to this traditional Italian side dish. The unusual shortcut cooking method is a brilliant way to serve polenta on a weeknight with very little active time.


  • 11 oz. (2 cups) polenta
  • 1/2 tsp. loosely packed saffron threads
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 3 cups lower-salt chicken broth or water; more as needed
  • Fine sea salt
  • 2 oz. (2 cups) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano; more for serving
  • 1-1/2  oz. (3 Tbs.) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
  • 3/4 cup toasted, chopped pistachios

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 330
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 120
  • Fat (g): 14
  • Saturated Fat (g): 6
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 5
  • Cholesterol (mg): 20
  • Sodium (mg): 580
  • Carbohydrates (g): 39
  • Fiber (g): 4
  • Protein (g): 11


Soak the polenta

  • Put the polenta in a 4-quart heavy-duty saucepan and sprinkle the saffron over it. whisk in the boiling water, cover, and let sit at room temperature for at least 8 and up to 12 hours.

Cook the polenta

  • In a 2-quart saucepan, bring the broth to a boil. Whisk the broth and 1 tsp. salt into the polenta, loosening it and breaking up any clumps. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking once or twice, about 5 minutes.
  • Turn the heat down to maintain a simmer and continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the polenta thickens from soupy to porridge-like, about 2 minutes.
  • Turn the heat down to low. Cover and cook, stirring vigorously and scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon or spatula every couple of minutes. When you can see the bottom of the pan as you drag the spoon across it, 5 to 10 minutes later, begin tasting the polenta; it’s done when it’s thick, creamy, and tender. It should be granular, but not gritty.
  • Remove from the heat, and stir in the cheese and butter until the butter is melted. Season to taste, sprinkle with the pistachios, and serve right away, passing more cheese at the table.

Make Ahead Tips

After soaking the polenta at room temperature, you can refrigerate it, covered, for up to 2 days.


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