My first polenta experience was not a good one – it was served up in one enormous dollop, unseasoned and entirely on its own as ‘the vegetarian option’ by a disgruntled chef in the French Alps. Needless to say, I wasn’t a fan.
However when I later came across baked polenta some years later I was immediately converted. Cheesy and soft in the middle with a deliciously crispy crust. It is a great carrier for all sorts of ingredients through the seasons. Why not use the basic recipe below and vary it with your own ingredient ideas?
Don’t worry too much if you don’t have a 19cm cake tin to hand – you can make these in any baking tray or tin, just vary the cooking time a little if they are thicker or thinner than these.
- 1 courgette, coarsely grated
- 50g cheddar cheese, grated
- 1 red chilli, finely chopped
- 20g butter, cut into small cubes
- 1 spring onion, finely chopped
- handful fresh basil, roughly chopped
- 120g instant polenta
- 450ml vegetable stock
- For the quick ketchup:
- olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 chilli, finely chopped
- 6 pitted black olives, finely chopped
- 250g passata
- 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- In a bowl, combine the grated courgette, cheese, chilli, butter, spring onion and basil.
- Bring the vegetable stock to the boil in a saucepan, then remove from the heat and pour in the polenta in a steady stream, stirring constantly, then return to a low heat and cook for a further 3 minutes stirring vigorously throughout.
- Remove the polenta from the heat and stir in the courgette and cheese mixture.
- Grease a 19cm / 7.5 inch cake tin with olive oil, pour in the polenta mixture and smooth the top. Leave to cool and when it reaches room temperature, place in the fridge for at least half an hour.
- Whilst the polenta is setting, make the ketchup. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a small pan, add the garlic and chilli and cook gently for 2-3 minutes. Add the passata, balsamic vinegar, sugar and olives and simmer gently for 10-15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F / Gas Mark 4. Bake the polenta for 45-50 minutes until golden brown on top. When it has cooled slightly, remove from the tin and slice into 8 wedges. Serve with a crisp green salad and a bowl of ketchup to spoon over or dip the wedges into.
For more vegetarian polenta recipes from blogging friends why not try:
- Helen’s Saucy Mushroom & Polenta Bake from Family Friends Food
- Penelope’s Dairy-free Cheesy Polenta Chips from Penelope’s Pantry
- Dannii’s Baked Garlic Polenta Fries from Hungry Healthy Happy