There are two fried pleasures I have: halloumi and polenta. Fried polenta is a treat in my book but something that’s easily made (even from leftovers). I’ll make extra polenta just so I can fry the leftovers the next day and smother it with vegetables. This version is an easy summer side and best of all, you can grill the polenta for a meal that requires zero oven time. If I’m not working with leftovers, I like to make the polenta up the night before so that it’s ready to go when I need it the next day.
A beautiful summer side or main dish that is best with leftover polenta.
- ½ cup dry polenta
- 2 cups water
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups wedged tomato slices roughly 2 large tomatoes- see note
- 1 small shallot thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons shredded basil
- 1 ounce crumbled feta
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- Salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
- An hour before or up to the night before making the salad, combine polenta, water, and salt in a pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and let cook for 20 minutes.(this is my favorite method for cooking polenta). Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper and pour the prepared polenta into the pan. Spread evenly and place in the refrigerator until cool and set.
- While waiting for the polenta to cool, combine the tomatoes with the shallots, basil, feta,olive oil, and lemon juice in a bowl. Toss until well combined, taste, and add salt/pepper as desired. Set aside.
- After polenta is cool, cut into 3 columns and cut each column in half. Cut each half into two triangles and repeat with remaining polenta.
- Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and place polenta in the skillet, not crowding the polenta and working in two to three batches if needed, adding more oil as needed. Cook for roughly 4 to 5 minutes until the polenta has crisped and is turning golden. Flip, repeat on the other side, and transfer to a plate.
- Arrange polenta on a platter, top with tomato salad, and sprinkle with extra basil. Serve immediately so that the polenta stays crisp.
Tips & Tricks: In the photo is two regular tomatoes which I took out some of the juice before making the salad. Other options would include using cherry or grape tomatoes, roma, or really any tomato that you want to try.
Nutrition: see the information.
Polenta Flavors: I intentionally left the fried polenta a bit on the boring side in the recipe above because there’s quite a few routes you could go to spice it up. Use a heavy hand of freshly cracked black pepper to create a black pepper polenta. Add a your favorite herbs to the polenta before cooling or add the cheese to the polenta (another favorite of mine).
Cheese: I like to use goat cheese or even fresh mozzarella (very much inline with the tomato/basil combination).
Grilled: You can easily ditch the frying process of fire up the grill. Brush the polenta with olive oil (and brush the grates, I have lucky not skimping the oil) and fry until crisp on each side.
Polenta is one of the items that is always in my pantry. It makes for a perfect vegetable base, can be used in different leftover ways, and is light on effort to prepare. As mentioned in the recipe, I prefer this method for cooking polenta and my current favorite polenta is this brand.