Polenta Appetizers

by May 30, 2008

Appetizers don’t always require bread. Cook some polenta, spread on a sheet pan, bake for 30 minutes, criss cross with your pizza cutter, add seasonal toppings and voilà! Easy, beautiful, healthy, and delicious. Enjoy!

Polenta Appetizers

makes 42 pieces


  • 6 cups water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups dry polenta/coarsely ground cornmeal Bob's Red Mill brand
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or unsalted butter (or some of each)
  • additional olive oil for preparing baking pan

Topping ingredients, see notes. Zucchini and goat cheese, cherry tomatoes and basil, or chard with ricotta salata are just some ideas.


  1. Boil water then slowly sprinkle in the polenta and stir with a wooden spoon. Simmer gently for 10 minutes then stir in 2 tablespoons olive oil or unsalted butter. Remove from heat, cover and set aside for 10 minutes.

  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly oil a cookie sheet pan (13"x18" half sheet) and press the polenta mixture into an even layer. Bake 30 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes then slice into squares with a pizza wheel or knife. Transfer squares to serving tray.

  3. Add toppings and serve as first course or hors d’oeuvres. Some ideas:

    Zucchini coins with fresh goat cheese, thyme, and halved Kalamata olives

    Cherry tomatoes and basil chiffonade

    Rainbow chard w/currants, toasted pine nuts, and ricotta salata

  4. Reheat leftovers on a griddle or frying pan with some olive oil to sizzle the bottom.

Recipe Notes / Tips

  • Zucchini: Preheat oven to 350°. Toss zucchini coins with 1 teaspoon olive oil and bake on parchment lined sheet pan until softened, about 20 minutes. Mix goat cheese with fresh thyme leaves. Top each polenta square with a small amount of the goat cheese mixture, two zucchini coins, and half an olive. Sprinkle with a little sea salt and serve.
  • Tomato Basil: Top each polenta square with a tiny spread of mayonnaise or aioli, a pinch of basil chiffonade, and a few halves of tomato. Sprinkle with a little sea salt and serve.
  • Rainbow Chard: Wash one bunch chard leaves in large bowl of water, letting any dirt sink to bottom. Lift out leaves and remove tender stem with knife and set aside all stems. Roughly chop leaves and set aside. Thinly slice stems and set aside.
    Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in large frying pan. Add chard stems and a splash of water, cover and cook for about five minutes, until stems have softened. Add the chopped chard leaves (still moist with water, or add another splash of water) and cook for about 5 minutes. Add a couple tablespoons dried currants and cook for another minute or two. Top each polenta square with a small slice of ricotta salata, a little mound of the cooked chard and a few pine nuts. Sprinkle with a little sea salt and serve.

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