I've recently started experimenting with polenta, but often finds it's a bit tasteless and ends up as a solid lump after a few minutes on the plate. What can I do to make it a bit more appealing?
There are plenty of things you can do to improve your polenta starting with the cooking liquid. Use chicken or vegetable stock (broth) instead of water (in the same quantities) which will immediately boost the flavour. Once the polenta is cooked taste and season it accordingly with salt and pepper, as cereals such as polenta are fairly bland by nature and often need extra seasoning. You can also stir in butter to make the polenta richer or some double (heavy) cream to make it more creamy. Grated Parmesan is also a good addition, or stir in some gorgonzola until melted if you like blue cheese. A dribble of truffle oil would add a luxurious touch.
As you have noted polenta also solidifies as it cools but this just opens up other ways to serve it. Spread the polenta out in a greased dish and when cold cut it into slices or wedges. You can shallow or deep fry, griddle or grill (broil) the slices of polenta or bake them in the oven. These can be served as accompaniments to stews and seafood or use small pieces as a base for canapes (appetizers). Nigella's new book Kitchen also has Venetian lasagne (p336) which replaces the usual pasta with sheets of set polenta.