Grilled Herb Polenta

Grilled Herb Polenta

If you haven’t tried making polenta before you really should, it can be used as a canvas for many plantiful creations.  One of my absolute favourite ways, is to grill it and top it with fresh, grilled veggies.

The polenta can be prepared a head of time which makes it awesome for busy weeknight dinners and easy dinner party entertaining.  After the polenta is set (which can be done a day or two ahead of time) it’s brushed with a little olive oil and grilled for a few minutes on each side, to heat through and to get some of those lovely grill marks that remind us of the beauty of a summer bbq.  Feel free to switch up the herbs, flavourings and toppings so that this becomes a summer grilling staple.

I’ve had this polenta recipe on my go to list for quite some time. I first made a similar set polenta as  as an appetizer for Mark’s, (my husband) Champagne Birthday, and it has become a family favourite. It’s really versatile– you can serve it grilled or chilled, as an appetizer or as a main course. Also, it’s a great alternative to a veggie burger for a plantiful bbq.

Polenta Flavour options:

For this polenta recipe I topped it with grilled grape tomatoes, red onion and fresh parsley for a rustic mediterranean meal, but the flavour combinations are endless.  You could try:

  • Putting dill and lemon zest into the polenta and top it with an arugula salad;
  • Flavouring your polenta with lime, cilantro and chill powder and top with a black bean salsa and  guacamole;
  • Adding fresh basil and sun dried tomato in the polenta then topping it with grilled peppers, zucchini and eggplant;
  • Using fresh oregano and shallots in the polenta base then topping it with wilted spinach and onions and olive tapenade; or,
  • Keeping it simple like my son, and dip it in marinara sauce (at least it’s not ketchup).

I’d love to hear how you make it, share your creations in the comment section below!

Grilled Herb Polenta
This set polenta dish is great served in large sizes as the base to a main dish, or served in smaller pieces as an appetizer. The freshness of the herbs, the vibrant yellow of the polenta, and the colourful veggie toppings will brighten any summer bbq.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Passive Time1 hour
  1. In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add in the onions and stir frequently until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
  2. While the onion is cooking, prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper and set it aside.
  3. Add the garlic into the pot and heat just until you start to smell the garlic, no more than 30 seconds.
  4. Pour the boiling hot water into the pot and season it with the salt.
  5. With a whisk, slowly add the polenta in a steady stream, whisking continuously to prevent clumping.
  6. Reduce heat to medium-low. You want to simmer the polenta gently, as it thickens, it will bubble and you don't want to get burned by it. With your whisk, or a wooden spoon, stir the polenta frequently until it starts to pull away from the sides of the pot and has thickened significantly. This could take 20 minutes or more.
  7. Remove the polenta from heat and stir in the herbs.
  8. Pour the polenta on to the prepared pan and spread it evenly.
  9. Set in the refrigerator, for at least an hour, to allow it to firm up.
  10. Once the polenta if fully set, use a knife to cut the polenta into 8-10 evenly sized pieces.
  11. With the 2 table spoon portion of olive oil, brush both sides of the polenta, and grill over medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes each side, or until it has heated through and the polenta is grill marked.
Grilled Veggies
  1. In this version of grilled polenta, I tossed a pint of grape tomatoes and one half of a red onion, sliced thinly in a little extra virgin olive oil, and placed them in half of a grill basket. In the other half of the grill basket, I put a bunch of asparagus, trimmed and tossed in a little olive oil. When the tomatoes started to split, I took them off the heat and tossed in a bowl with fresh chopped parsley. When the asparagus was tender crisp, it was done and served on the side.
Recipe Notes

I like to use a coarse cornmeal for this because it provides a nice texture and looks so rustic smothered in colourful grilled vegetables.  However, if  you are serving this for a refined crowd, you can use a finer cornmeal.

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