Polenta Squares with Veggie Toppings
makes 42 pieces
- 6 cups water
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cups polenta, preferably organic Bob's Red Mill brand
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or unsalted butter
- additional olive oil for preparing baking pan
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.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly oil a cookie sheet pan (11"x17" 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.
Add toppings and serve as first course or hors d’oeuvres, recipes follow: (Note: each topping recipe makes enough for all 42 squares, so if you want to just make one topping, you will have enough.)
Topping 1: Zucchini coins with fresh goat cheese and thyme and ½ Kalamata olive
Topping 2: Cherry tomatoes and basil chiffonade
Topping 3: Rainbow chard with currants, toasted pine nuts and ricotta salata
- 2-3 small zucchini, sliced into thin coins (about 1/8 inch thick)
- 1/4 cup (2 oz.) soft goat cheese (I use Laura Chenel plain chabis), room temperature
- 21 pitted kalamata olives, sliced in half or chopped
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toss zucchini coins with 1 teaspoon olive oil and bake on parchment lined sheet pan until softened, about 20 minutes.
- Mix goat cheese with the fresh thyme leaves.
- Top each polenta square with a small amount of the goat cheese mixture, two zucchini coins and 1/2 an olive. Sprinkle with a little sea salt and serve.
- 1/2 basket organic cherry tomatoes, each sliced in half
- 20 leaves basil, sliced into thin strips (chiffonade)
- home made mayonnaise or aioli
- sea salt
- Top each polenta square with a tiny spread of home made mayonnaise or aioli, a few tomato halves and the basil. Sprinkle with a little sea salt and serve.
- 1 bunch rainbow chard
- 2 tablespoons currants
- 1/4 cup (2 oz.) ricotta salata, sliced into thin pieces or crumbled
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts, toasted
- extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt
- Wash 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 currants, toss chard 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.
- Store leftover polenta squares, with or without toppings, in the refrigerator. Reheat gently on a griddle or frying pan on low-medium heat.
- Extra polenta? Spread it into a baking pan lined with plastic wrap (enough overhang to cover the surface of the polenta and keep it fresh in the fridge). The polenta keeps for a few days. Enjoy with a fried egg, or add toppings for polenta square appetizers.