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This simple, slowly cooked polenta is gently seasoned with fresh herbs. If our choices of herbs don't suit the rest of your menu, simply swap them for those that do.

Be sure not to use instant polenta for this recipe; you want coarse cornmeal. And if there are leftovers, simply pour them into a shallow dish, then refrigerate. The polenta will firm up and can easily be cut into slices. Those slices are delicious grilled, or can be topped with cheese and roasted or broiled.

>Herbed Polenta

4 cups milk

5 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups polenta or corn grits

3 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano

2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

3/4 cup half-and-half

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

4 tablespoons ( 1/2 stick) butter

Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

In a large saucepan over medium-high, combine the milk, water and salt, then bring to a boil.

While whisking, slowly pour the polenta into the pan. Continue whisking while the mixture returns to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 50 minutes.

Stir in the oregano, thyme, mint, half-and-half, Parmesan and butter. When it's smooth, season with salt and pepper.

Serves 12.

Per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 207 calories; 68 calories from fat (33 percent of total calories); 8 g fat (4 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 22 mg cholesterol; 24 g carbohydrate; 10 g protein; 1 g fiber; 403 mg sodium.