Baked polenta with fresh tomatoes and Parmesan recipe

Baked polenta with fresh tomatoes and Parmesan recipe

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  • Recipes
  • Dish type
  • Side dish
  • Vegetable side dishes

This baked polenta with Parmesan, basil and tomatoes is a lovely way to show off the summer tomatoes from your garden or your local market. It is a great summer side dish.

6 people made this

IngredientsServes: 4

  • 535ml water
  • 235ml milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 180g instant polenta
  • 80g grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon butter, chilled and cut into pieces
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced
  • 40g grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 fresh basil leaves, chopped

MethodPrep:10min ›Cook:30min ›Ready in:40min

  1. Preheat oven to 230 C / Gas 8. Grease a 20cm baking dish.
  2. Place the water, milk and butter in a saucepan and bring to the boil over medium-high heat. Add the polenta and stir with a wooden spoon until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 80g Parmesan cheese and 2 chopped basil leaves; season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the polenta to the prepared baking dish and arrange the remaining chilled pieces of butter over the top.
  3. Bake the polenta in the preheated oven until bubbly and beginning to brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven.
  4. Decoratively arrange the slices of tomato over the top of the polenta, spread the remaining basil leaves over the tomatoes, and sprinkle with 40g Parmesan cheese.
  5. Return to the oven and bake until the tomatoes are warm and the Parmesan cheese is bubbly, 5 to 10 minutes.

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(40)

Reviews in English (28)


I used the already made polenta in a tube and sliced it up about 1/2 inch thick. Drizzled it with olive oil and dried basil and let it cook in the preheated over about 12 min, then added tomotoes/basil/cheese to the top and cooked until golden. YUMMY and easy. AND FAST. A keeper-26 Jan 2008

by Laiane

I would substitute olive oil in for the butter next time. It was very tasty with the butter, but I'd rather use EVOO. It seems more appropriate with tomatoes and basil. Also, I wouldn't add any salt, since the parmesan is salty enough.-26 Jun 2010

by Nancey Malone Cassalia

this is a great side dish but not my idea of an entree. we did change this a bit as we were not in the mood for tomatoe this particular evening! we used 4 cheeses, havarti, parm, blue & mascarpone!! amazingly tasty and a nice crispy edging!! we will make again!!-19 Feb 2009

Creamy Baked Parmesan Polenta

A big dish of creamy polenta is the perfect choice for cold, wintery days, topped with your favorite tomato sauce or a spoonful of slow cooked stew. My family loves polenta, but the traditional way of cooking it on the stovetop is a bit fussy, and requires about 45 minutes and LOTS of stirring. Because of the effort involved, I honestly do not cook polenta that often. I recently began to bake my polenta in the oven and find it a much easier way to prepare it, and although it still takes a minimum of 45 minutes to cook, it requires only one or two stirrings and you end up with the same creamy polenta that you would if you cooked it on the stove. If you have invited Nonna for dinner, she will not even notice that the polenta was baked instead of carefully cooked on the stove, though she might not approve of this less than traditional preparation method so I would keep that to yourself!

Polenta is so versatile, so do not simply look at it and think “mushy cornmeal”. My family actually prefers it spooned soft into a bowl and topped with a flavorful tomato sauce and a sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese, but you can cool the polenta on a baking sheet until firm and then cut it into pieces and fry or grill it as a side dish, or cut the polenta (once cooled) into layers and create a lasagna type of dish using meat, sauce, and cheese which is also very tasty.

Although I chose to use grated Parmesan in this version, you can replace the Parmesan with Gorgonzola, or even goat cheese, or skip the cheese and simply leave the polenta simple. A spoonful of polenta makes a great side dish or platform for stews or braised meats, and is a great alternative to mashed potatoes or rice.

There are varieties of “instant” polenta on the market, but I really prefer the texture of the longer cooking polenta, and when you bake it as this recipe does, it is almost effortless. You can use any medium grain cornmeal to make polenta, although for this recipe I used Bob’s Red Mill Stone Ground 100% Whole Grain, Medium Grind cornmeal which I found took a little longer to bake than regular cornmeal.

Baked Polenta with Tomatoes


  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 1/4 cups polenta (course ground cornmeal)
  • 1 tablespoon sage, rubbed
  • 1/2 teaspoon (or to taste) salt, Kosher
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper, fresh ground (or to taste)
  • 3 tomatoes, beefsteak (sliced, 1/4 inch thick)
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Cooking spray


  1. Spray a 9 x 13 pan and a large baking sheet with cooking spray. Set them aside.
  2. In a large saucepan bring the vegetable broth to a boil.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium low. Gradually stir in the polenta while constantly stirring.
  4. After the polenta is stirred in, mix in the sage, salt and pepper while continuing to stir.
  5. Continue to stir until the mixture becomes thick and pulls away from the pan (about 5 minutes).
  6. Spread the mixture evenly into the 9 x 13 pan and leave it to cool.
  7. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  8. When the polenta is cooled, cut into 16 squares (or to desired size).
  9. Lay the polenta squares flat on the baking sheet.
  10. Lay a tomato slice over each polenta square and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  11. Bake for about 25 minutes or until the cheese and polenta start to brown. Serve.


You can use 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of ground sage or 1 tablespoon fresh, chopped sage in place of the rubbed sage.

Beefsteak tomatoes are large, juicy and firm. There are many varieties to choose from.

I use a whisk to stir in the polenta to help avoid lumps.

Do not use instant polenta or cornmeal.

This baked polenta is a delicious side dish. It is also yummy covered with beans and/or tomato sauce.


• 1 tablespoon sea salt
• 225 g (8 oz) instant polenta
• 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
• simple tomato sauce (below)
• 350 g (12 oz) fresh ricotta
• 25 g (1/4 cup) finely grated Parmesan cheese
• freshly ground black pepper

Put 1.5 litres (6 cups) water in a large saucepan over a high heat and bring to the boil. Add the salt and pour the polenta, constantly stirring with a wooden spoon, into the water in a steady stream. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring regularly.
(Polenta is thick and sticky and needs to be stirred regularly so it doesn't catch on the base of the pan).

Lightly oil a 30 x 20 cm (12 x 8 inch) baking dish with half the olive oil. Pour the cooked polenta into the prepared dish and spread evenly. Leave to cool and firm in the baking dish then turn out onto a cutting board. Cut the polenta into 5 cm (2 inch) squares.

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Lightly grease a 20 x 25 cm (8 x 10 inch) gratin dish or four individual dishes with the remaining oil. Place the polenta squares in a single layer, slightly overlapping. Pour the simple tomato sauce evenly over the polenta. Sprinkle the ricotta and Parmesan cheese over the top. Season with pepper. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden.

• 2 x 425 g (15 oz) tins chopped Italian tomatoes
• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 1 teaspoon sea salt
• 1 teaspoon sugar
• freshly ground black pepper
• 2 garlic cloves, crushed

Place the tomatoes in a saucepan over a medium heat and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the remaining ingredients, cook for 1 minute then remove from the heat.

Notes about this recipe

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Baked Parmesan Polenta Fries

In Naples triangles of fried polenta are called scagnuozzi (I hope I haven’t misspelled it – although I was born in Naples, I do not know the dialect very well!).

These scagnuozzi (meaning “henchmen”) are yummy treats that every pizzeria sells as a street food fix or appetizer /entree for the Neapolitan pizza.

That said, these are not the Neapolitan scagnuozzi but my healthified version of them. I oven baked polenta to save lots of frying oil and – above all – many many KCals.

Since baked polenta is not as moist as fried polenta I found it NECESSARY to dip it in a sauce. You say polenta fries, I say ketchup marinara sauce, another neapolitan recipe made with tomatoes, garlic and oregano.

Most probably Neapolitans would’t approve the idea of baking polenta instead of frying it but I do not intend to let them know. Shh, let’s keep it secret :).

What is polenta, anyway?

At a glance, polenta might seem akin to the style of grits popular in the American South. It might also look pretty similar to some of the corn-based foods from Mexican, Central, and South American cuisine. In fact, polenta is a Northern Italian dish, according to The Spruce Eats. And unlike grits, which are almost always made from white corn, polenta is more typically made with coarsely-ground yellow corn.

When hot and fresh, polenta is much like a thick porridge that can soak in sauces or serve as a bed for other ingredients. You can also let it cool and set into a firmer texture that can be sliced into pieces and baked or fried, creating a totally different type of food. Yes, that means that you, too, can unlock the semi-secret Midwestern treat of "fried mush" with your leftover polenta or grits.

Recipe Summary

  • 2 cups unsalted vegetable stock
  • 2 cups 1% low-fat milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup uncooked stone-ground polenta or cornmeal
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 ½ ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 cups cherry tomatoes (about 15 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic or red wine vinegar
  • 1 ounce watercress or mesclun greens
  • ½ ounce Parmesan cheese, shaved (about 2 tablespoons)

Stir together the stock, milk, water, polenta, and 1/4 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper in a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW until the liquid is absorbed and the polenta is soft, 3 to 4 hours, stirring every hour. Add the grated Parmesan and butter, stirring to combine. Cover and let stand until serving.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Stir together the tomatoes, olive oil, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Place the tomatoes on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven until the tomatoes are soft and lightly charred, 10 to 12 minutes.

Place the charred tomatoes and juices in a bowl add the basil and vinegar, stirring gently to combine. Divide the polenta among 4 bowls top with the tomato mixture, watercress, and shaved Parmesan.

How this baked polenta is healthy?

This recipe is healthy because it contains:

  • Polenta: it is made from coarsely ground cornmeal, that belongs to the whole grain category (see food pyramid). It is a low carb food.
  • fresh vegetables (spinach and tomato)
  • goat cheese: lower in fat, calories and cholesterol compared with bovine counterparts.

In this recipe, I used pre-made organic polenta brought from a local grocery store. It comes in a cylindrical shaped plastic pack. However, I will later update this recipe with polenta made using cornmeal at home.

How do you make Polenta?

Making the polenta rounds couldn’t be easier. Hot milk is infused with herbs and garlic. Then the herbs and garlic are fished out and discarded. The infused milk is mixed with the polenta… which is cooked for several minutes until it gets really thick. It’s then spread evenly into a pan and cooled.

Once cooled, the polenta becomes firm. Use a 1-inch round to punch out small bite-sized polenta rounds If you don’t have a 1-inch round cutter, you can certainly use something similar. Refrigerate the polenta rounds until you’re ready to continue the recipe (or you can continue with the next step).

Fry the polenta rounds in a little oil to lightly brown both sides (make ahead tip: you can make the fried polenta rounds ahead of time. When you’re ready to assemble, you’ll just warm them again briefly- or at least bring them to room temperature.)

Baked Parmesan polenta

Fry the sausage in a splash of oil until the fat has rendered and the sausage has become crispy.

Spoon the sausage out of the plan with a slotted spoon, remove the pan from the heat and add the garlic and thyme.

Fry the garlic and thyme in the fat for a few minutes.

Add the red wine to deglaze the pan and return to the heat. Bring to the boil and add the mushrooms and cooked sausage.

Simmer over a medium heat until the mushrooms are soft with a bit of moisture still left in the pan.

In an oven proof frying pan mix the polenta and stock with a whisk. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer while constantly whisking for about 10 minutes until the polenta pulls away from the sides of the pan.

Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan and butter.

Spoon the mushroom mixture evenly over the polenta and sprinkle the feta and tomatoes over the top.

Place under the grill for 5 &ndash 10 minutes until the tomatoes are blistered and the cheese a golden brown (keep checking that it does not burn).

Sprinkle with fresh torn basil and serve with a glass of wine.

Recipe reprinted with permission of HeinStirred. To see more recipes click here.


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