Tomato Basil Fried Polenta with Blue Cheese

| May 12, 2014 | 34 Comments

Crispy fried polenta cakes are topped with a warm garlicky tomato topping, fresh basil and sharp blue cheese. It’s a celebration of fresh flavors and textures.

Tomato Basil Polenta with Blue Cheese

As I am sitting here, Jewel is singing “Have a Little Faith in Me,” and the kids are outside playing with a shiny gold ball — practically daring the storm clouds to pour on them. Their hoots and laughter carry in through open doors and windows. Nearby, one of my 10-year-old beagles is gazing out my office door, watching the road. He doesn’t want to go out … he just wants to look.

My life isn’t quiet, and it’s not still. Aside from the few hours when both kids are in school, there is always a flurry of activity and homework happening here. Sometimes there are sports practices, urgent deadlines and evening meetings too. Like many of you, life is busy. And it’s imperfect. Sometimes we’re late because someone misplaced their soccer socks (again!). Sometimes things don’t go at all as planned. Sometimes there’s just too much work for an impromptu trip to the park.

When life moves at a rapid pace like it does for us, it’s easy to fall into the traps of convenience — choosing takeover over home cooking and opting for the easiest go-to dinner you can think of (breakfast for dinner, again?!?). If you are nodding your head, believe me that I get it. It really can be easier to order a pizza than to cook a meal after a long day. I speak from experience.

Polenta with Tomato Basil Sauce and Blue Cheese

But there’s something to be said for the comfort of a home cooked meal. And home cooking doesn’t have to mean complicated, time-sucking preparation. In fact, it can mean heating a little oil up in a pan and cooking a little garlic until it’s fragrant (hint: it takes about a minute) and then tossing it with little tomatoes, salt and pepper to make a fresh sauce that’s delightful over fried slices of premade polenta. Add a sprinkle of fresh basil and a crumble of blue cheese … heavenly.

Slicing Polenta

If you haven’t whipped up fried polenta before, let me assure you it’s very easy. Look for precooked polenta in a tube. When you unwrap it, all you have to do is cut it into slices and fry it up in a little bit of olive oil. And that frying? Aside from one quick flip, it’s almost completely hands off.

Tomato Basil Polenta

Tomato Basil Fried Polenta with Blue Cheese is fantastic as an appetizer or light lunch. But pile it on a bed of baby arugula or baby spinach (perhaps with a drizzle of balsamic?) and it’s a perfect 30-minute dinner.

How do you like your polenta?

Tomato Basil Fried Polenta with Blue Cheese
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: serves 4
Tomato Topping
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes (about 2 cups)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 roll precooked polenta, sliced into ½ discs
  • ¼ cup finely sliced fresh basil
  • ¼ cup crumbled blue cheese
  1. Preheat a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat on the stove. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil for the topping and heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minutes. Add the tomatoes and season well with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes until the tomatoes begin to pop open. Use the back of a spatula to lightly press the tomatoes so they all pop. Remove from the burner and set aside.
  2. Preheat a 10-inch sauté pan over medium heat. Add the remaining olive oil (for the polenta) and heat. Place the polenta slices in the pan and cook, flipping once, until golden, about 13-15 minutes.
  3. To serve, arrange polenta slices on plates and top with tomatoes. Sprinkle with basil and blue cheese. Enjoy immediately.

Tags: , ,

Category: Appetizers, lunch, Quick and Easy Recipes, Recipes, vegetarian

About the Author ()

Sarah Walker Caron is a writer, editor and recipe developer who loves to create delicious recipes the whole family can enjoy together. Her work has appeared in countless publications including iVillage, BELLA NYC Magazine, Yum for Kids magazine and more. She lives in Maine with her two food-loving kids.

Comments (34)

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  1. I love this recipe. It’s so easy, and I’m sure it’s tasty. Can’t go wrong with fried polenta and blue cheese.

  2. You are right. It can be such a challenge to get a healthy, home cooked dinner on the table especially on nights we have activities. This sounds like the perfect meal to enjoy on those nights.

  3. I hate that sometimes, life gets too busy to stop and enjoy. It’s frustrating but necessary, I guess. Either way, I’ll take some of this fried polenta! I’ve never had it but it looks amazing!

  4. This looks fancy restaurant worthy!

  5. christine says:

    Polenta is one of those things I always say I’ll make and then forget about. This looks fabulous and has me saying “I’m buying polenta today”

  6. I love the pretty dish and the gorgeous colors on that plate! We eat with our eyes and this makes me want to grab a fork and dig in!

  7. Julie says:

    I just recently figured out that I enjoy polenta, so this looks great!

  8. Of course, being a good southern girl, I love polenta. Why? Well, because it’s first cousins to grits :-) Not much better in the world than polenta/grits/cornmeal with tomatoes and blue cheese. Yum.

  9. Yum! I love everything about this recipe! It’s about time I make polenta again!

  10. Samantha says:

    some of my favorite things in one meal! Delicious!

  11. Ginny McMeans says:

    Polenta us a childhood favorite of mine. I am so glad to find this recipe. Thanks!

  12. In all honesty I haven’t had the slightest clue that ore-cooked polenta roll can be bought. These discs look fantastically presented. Incredibly appealing dish.

  13. YUM, perfect dish for summer! :)

  14. What a fabulous light meal! Love it!

  15. The char on the polenta in photo #2 looks like perfection!

  16. Susan says:

    It’s all about that pre-cooked polenta. The perfect vehicle and this time it’s for those gorgeous tomatoes.

  17. Looks so tasty yet easy! I’m pinning this for later!

  18. I’ve actually never had polenta. Heard of it but never had it. Is it starchy?

  19. Nutmeg Nanny says:

    I love fried polenta! Back in Ohio we used to eat it fried and then smother it in maple syrup…it’s so good!

  20. I think we’re living the same life. I have a few brief hours of quiet in my day before everything blows up and my little tornado comes home. I love the dinner you prepared. It’s so gorgeous and healthy and yet total comfort food.

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