Comforting, cheap and oh-so easy to make, polenta is a staple in Northern Italy for a reason. This versatile gluten-free grain has tons of potential.
Keep reading to discover 12 tasty polenta dishes to try, from hearty breakfasts to Italian-inspired dinners and delish desserts. There’s a polenta dish for everybody!
How to cook polenta
Even if you’re a novice in the kitchen, you won’t struggle with polenta.
1. Traditional polenta
Cooking polenta is quite similar to cooking regular breakfast porridge. All you need to do in order to cook up a batch of traditional polenta is:
- Get yourself some polenta mix or coarsely ground cornmeal – it’s essentially the same thing.
- Bring a pan of water or milk to the boil in a heavy bottomed pot.
- Add in the polenta and stir regularly until the starch has broken down and you are left with a smooth consistency. This usually takes around 50 minutes.
- And there you have it – the base of many polenta recipes to come. For even more flavour, plan your chosen seasonings in advance so you can cook them into the mixture.
2. Creamy polenta mash
Getting a little tired of mashed potato? You should try using polenta instead of your regular spuds for an equally satisfying yet delightfully different mash alternative.
Simply cook polenta using the method above with cow’s milk or a creamy plant milk, add some butter or olive oil then add salt, pepper and any other seasoning you like for a deliciously creamy mash.
For cheesy polenta mash, we recommend parmesan or other hard cheeses. This makes a great base to top with meaty ragu, seafood stew, miso mushrooms or other veggies, or simply serve it up with whatever you’d usually have with mashed potato.
3. Grilled polenta
The next time you fire up the BBQ, why not try grilling some polenta to spice it up a little?
- First make yourself some traditional polenta with vegetable stock, instead of water, with the addition of olive oil / butter, garlic, chilli, salt and pepper.
- Pour into dishes or pans, let it cool to room temp on the side and then leave in the fridge to firm up.
- About an hour before the BBQ, remove the mix for the fridge and set it aside.
- When its go time, cut up the polenta, brush with olive oil and grill for a few mins on each side.
4. Baked polenta
You can do so much with baked polenta! Make it by following the traditional method, adding in any flavours you desire and leave it to cool to room temp, then refrigerate overnight. Then it’s ready to bake.
5. Polenta chips
Make your polenta for baking with olive oil, salt and pepper is perfect for chips. Once cooled and set, cut up into chip-like shapes and bake.
6. Polenta croutons
What’s a salad without croutons? Follow the same steps advised for polenta chips, with some added herby goodness to make delightfully crisp croutons fit for any salad.
7. Polenta pizza
If you’re looking for a gluten-free or generally lighter pizza, polenta pizza could be for you.
- Pour freshly made polenta into a pizza-friendly pan, allow to cool and refrigerate overnight.
- Bake the base until it starts to brown around the edges.
- Top with sauce, cheese and any other toppings you fancy and finish off in the oven until the cheese is melted and toppings are cooked.
8. Polenta tartLove a tart? Polenta makes a tasty gluten-free tart base, try it out with our vegan polenta and rosemary tart with roasted garlic and white beans recipe.
9. Polenta cakeSo versatile you can make cake with it! Polenta can make a fabulous alternative or addition to wheat flour in cakes. Get inspired with our manuka honey and orange polenta cake with pistachios.
10. Polenta crumble
Polenta also makes a cracking crumble topping. Simply whisk uncooked polenta, sugar, flour and salt to combine. Work into butter or margarine with your hands and use in place of regular crumble mixes.
11. Crunchy polenta coating
You can use polenta just like breadcrumbs. Simply coat fish, seafood, meat, tofu, or anything really with egg or an egg alternative like aquafaba, then coat with polenta before shallow or deep frying.
Dusting polenta on potatoes or other veggies before roasting also gives them a tasty, crispy polenta crunch.
12. Polenta bread
You may have heard of or already tried cornbread – polenta bread is pretty much the same thing.
Most recipes call for you to use both bread flour and polenta / course cornmeal, and the process is pretty much the same as making ‘normal’ bread. Combine the flours with water, sugar, yeast, salt and olive oil, knead, prove and bake.Now you know some ways to cook polenta, why not discover all the health benefits of polenta?
Last updated: 7 September 2020