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Grilled Cracked Pepper Polenta Squares

Working on cooking shows a lot, an ingredient I always have in the pantry (but don’t often use) is polenta. While thinking up a ‘cleaning out the pantry series’, I thought polenta would be a perfect example to use. I started with a creamy polenta and transformed it into a nutty grilled polenta cake. I kept it simple with cracked pepper and Parmesan. It’s great as a side or even as an appetizer served with a bright tomato jam.



Yields: 8-12 pieces

1 ½ cups polenta

1 ½ teaspoons salt

5 cloves of garlic, minced

1 ½ teaspoons coarsely cracked black pepper

1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter

Extra virgin olive oil (for sautéing garlic and grilling polenta)

Grated parmesan (for topping)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the polenta, 1 1/2 quarts water, salt, and black pepper in a 2-quart baking dish, and stir together. Set aside.
  2. Sauté minced garlic in a splash of olive oil until aromatic. Add to polenta mix and stir.
  3. Place the baking dish on top of a sheet pan (so that if water sloshes when you put it in the oven, it will just go onto the sheet pan), and place in the oven. Bake one hour. Remove from the oven, stir in the butter and return to the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, and stir again. Return to the oven for 10 to 20 minutes until stiff. Remove from the oven and allow to cool, then chill for one hour or more.
  4. Prepare a medium grill or heat an electric griddle on medium. Cut the polenta into squares, and brush the squares on both sides with olive oil. Place on the grill or griddle. When grill marks appear or when nicely browned, usually in about 3 to 5 minutes, turn and brown the other side. Sprinkle with parmesan and cracked black pepper and serve hot.


Satisfy your senses,
Amanda (follow me on Twitter!)

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