I've been on a really big polenta kick ever since returning from Venice. I can't get enough of it. I've gone so far as to contemplate buying relatively expensive, very high maintenance freshly stone ground polenta from the internets. I still might. In the meantime, here is a little recipe that I made using Bob's Red Mill Polenta Corn Grits, available at your friendly neighborhood Whole Foods, and probably lots of other groceries as well. Bob's are par-boiled, so the cook time is really short compared with true, long cooking polenta that takes an hour or more. Start cooking your chard and tomatoes about 10-15 minutes into the polenta cooking process.
3 c water
1 c polenta
1 t salt
2 TB butter or olive oil
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
In a heavy bottomed pot, boil 3 cups of water. Whisk in the polenta and salt. Turn down the heat and stir constantly until the polenta is suspended in the water and no longer settles to the bottom of the pot. Cook for 30 minutes at a bare simmer. Stir frequently, being careful not to burn yourself if the polenta bubbles pop and splatter. Add water if the polenta gets too thick. You want the it to stay soft.
Stir in butter and Parmesan. Taste and add more salt if needed.
For the Chard and Tomatoes:
1-2 bunches swiss chard (1 bunch if you are cooking for two, 2 if you are serving 4)
1 TB extra virgin olive oil
1/4 ts crumbled red chili pepper flakes
2 large garlic cloves, sliced finely or minced
a handful of grape tomatoes, sliced lengthwise
Prepare chard by washing, rinsing and drying thoroughly. I dry mine after it's cut (in a salad spinner) but it can also be dried with towels while still in whole leaf form. Pull or cut the leaves from the center rib. Chop the ribs into slices and cut the leaves into ribbons, approximately 1 inch wide.
When your polenta is about half way through the cooking process, start cooking the chard. In a heavy pan, heat the olive oil until it shimmers over medium heat. Add garlic and saute until it just begins to be fragrant, about 30 seconds to a minute. Add the chili pepper and quickly stir. Add chard ribs and saute gently until they begin to soften, about 2-3 minutes. Add chard leaves and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chard leaves begin to wilt and become tender. Add a tablespoon of water if the pan begins to dry out at any point. Add tomatoes and saute gently until they are warmed through but not breaking down. Taste for seasoning and salt if desired. If you have a good finishing salt like Fleur de Sel de Guérande, this is really nice place to use it.
Serve immediately by placing a large spoonful of soft polenta into a bowl and using the spoon to create a dip in the center. Top with sauted chard and tomatoes.