Polenta Cakes

Crispy Polenta Cakes, Whipped Goat Cheese,Tomato Compote and Avacado Cilantro Crema


Crispy Polenta Cakes are an elegant and simple, make-ahead appetizers for your upcoming party. This is my guests all time favorite and my family’s. I do sometimes make Polenta as a main course, serving bigger portions of it with roasted carrots and chard with a lentil puree. For the appetizer, however, I chose to pair it with a slow-cooked tomato compote and avocado, cilantro crema to give the zing and creamy contrasting flavors that make you sigh with pleasure.

Polenta (Bob’s Red Mill, Organic, Polenta, Corn Grits, 24 oz pack of 2) is made with cornmeal though traditionally it was made with starchy, coarse grains like farro, millets, spelt, and chickpeas. It is a perfect blank canvas for you to add flavors and build up your dish. It does take a long time to cook, about 45 minutes with near-constant stirring. So be sure to make it ahead. You can use instant polenta if you are in a pinch or you get cooked polenta (Trader Joe’s Organic Polenta 18oz (1lb 2oz) 510g) at the market these days. But, I prefer the slow-cooked method. I have given the method to make it in the slow cooker which is actually much easier.

Polenta Cakes
Diced Shallots
Polenta Cakes
Polenta ready for baking

So this holiday, make these flavorful Crispy Polenta Cakes and YOU will be the star of the party.

Storage: Polenta freezers well for up to a month. I like to cut 5″ squares and wrap them individually and place them in freezer bags. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before using.

Slow Cooker I use – Hamilton Beach 33473 Programmable Slow Cooker, 7-Quart, Silver

For the Main Course make Mint Linguine with Lemon-Leek Sauce

Crispy Polenta Cakes with Goat Cheese and Tomato Fondue

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Passive Time 8 Servings

Crispy Polenta cakes are an elegant and simple, make-ahead appetizers with a slow-cooked tomato fondue and avocado, cilantro crema.


    For  the Crispy Polenta
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 cup coarse Polenta
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted Butter, at room temperature
  • Freshly ground black Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf Parsley
  • 2 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons Vegetable oil
  • 1 cup Vegetable Oil, for frying/ 4 Tablespoons for Baking
  • For the Tomato Compote
  • 6 large Garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 large Shallot, minced
  • 2 pounds assorted tomatoes—small tomatoes halved, larger tomatoes cut into wedges
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • Avacado Cilantro Crema
  • 1 ripe Avacado
  • 1/2 Cup fresh Cilantro 
  • 1-inch Jalapeno
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh Lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh Cream
  • Garnish
  • 3 Tablespoons (use more if you like) Goat Cheese whisked with 1 Tablespoon Cream and a pinch of Salt
  • A few fresh Sage leaves fried in Clarified Butter/Ghee


    For the Crispy Polenta
    Cooking Method 1 - Stove Top
  1. Bring 6 cups of water and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and slowly add the cornmeal in a shower, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens, 3 to 5 minutes. Change to a wooden spoon and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the spoon stands in the polenta, 15 to 25 minutes. 
  2. Cooking Method 2- Slow Cooker
  3. Grease the bottom and sides of the slow cooker with oil or butter. Whisk the cornmeal (or polenta), water and salt together in the slow cooker. Cook on low for 4-5 hours, stir one time half-way through.
  4. Add Herbs
  5. Combine the parsley and garlic and chop together until very fine. Add to the Polenta with the Parmigiano and 2 tablespoons of the butter and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Immediately spread the polenta in a buttered 9-by 9-inch pan. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
  6. Score the polenta into 1-inch squares or any desired shape and size.
  7. You can freeze the polenta at this stage or refrigerate for a week. Choose one of the two following methods to proceed.
  8. Frying
  9. Heat 1/2-inch of olive oil in a tiny piece of polenta turns golden on contact, 375 degrees F. Add a few of the polenta triangles and cook, turning occasionally, until golden on both sides. Drain on paper towels.
  10. Baking
  11. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Spray a sheet pan with cooking spray and line the polenta such that they don't touch each other. Top with few drops of vegetable oil. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes turning the polenta over half way (15 minutes) through till they are golden brown and crisp on top.
  12. For the Tomato Compote
  13. In a deep skillet, melt the Butter. Add the shallot and cook over low heat until softened, 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, and garlic, and cook over moderate heat until the tomatoes release their liquid, 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Continue simmering till the mixture thickens and almost all the liquid has evaporated. Reserve in a container.
  14. For the Avacado Crema
  15. Blend together all the ingredients. Add water 1 Tablespoon at a time. The crema should be thick. Taste and adjust for salt. If you would like it spicier, increase the quantity of Jalapeno. 
  16. Plating
  17. Warm the Tomato Compote. Place a tablespoon of Tomato Compote. Arrange the Polenta around it. Pipe in the Avacado Cilantro Crema in the center. Pipe the whipped goat cheese in small dollops. Top with fried Sage. Serve.
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  1. Beautiful blend of flavours!


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