Mix cornmeal, 3 cups water, 1 tsp salt, and 1 tbsp oil in a medium-size saucepan. Bring to a light boil over medium-low heat, whisking occasionally. When polenta starts to bubble, lower the temperature to low and constantly whisk, keeping the cornmeal from lumping up and sticking to the bottom of your pan, until desired consistency is reached, about 10-20 minutes. You want to be able to lift it with the fork, so it should be pretty thick.
Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large skillet. Add sliced onion and bell pepper(s) and sauté over medium heat until vegetables are softened, about 5-10 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon of each salt, pepper, and sugar and cook 5 more minutes.
To serve, scoop the caramelized vegetables over polenta and sprinkle with parsley if desired.
The instructions on the cornmeal package suggest a 1:4 ratio - one part cornmeal to 4 parts water. However, I find that a 1:3 ratio is just the right amount for me. I don't like my polenta too mushy.
The cooking time may vary depending on the variety of the cornmeal. The correct cooking times are noted on the package instructions or do as I do - cook until it's done. :)
An essential part for perfect polenta: constantly whisk so that it does not burn. Don't use a wooden spoon; a whisk will break up clumps and make polenta that is creamier throughout.
A constant slow cooking and steady low heat is the key to bring out the blended consistency and taste.
Not a fan of big chunks of sliced onions and peppers? Chop them as small as you wish instead.
Substitute oil with butter.
Serve it with a side of fresh salad. Top with sour cream or buttermilk or add feta cheese.
For the best results, read additional tips in the post above.
Nutrition information is approximate and meant as a guideline only.