Roasted Tomatoes with Polenta & Spinach


EVERYDAY EATS: Roasted Tomatoes with Polenta & Spinach // shutter bean

I really love going over to other people's houses for dinner because I usually find new tips & tricks from other people's cooking repertoires. A few years ago I sat in my neighbor's kitchen, drinking a gin & tonic and watched her fry up polenta rounds to accompany roasted meat & vegetables for dinner. It never occurred to me to buy pre-made polenta and fry up rounds as a starchy side. I saved that one to the memory bank....

Now, I'm no stranger to polenta. I make breakfast polenta from scratch on special occasions at home. And when we were growing up, my paternal Italian grandparents used to have a polenta party once a year. My grandma would pour a huge pot of creamy polenta on top of a wooden board the size of our table, top it with marinara, meatballs, sausage & fresh parmesan. We'd all sit around the table with forks & spoons and eat directly off that polenta board.  It was the real deal, but it was also an ALLLLLLL DAY EVENT. We don't always have time for polenta parties (although I wish we did!).

With this simple dish, I grabbed a log of Organic Polenta from Trader Joe's that I had tucked in our pantry and fried up sliced rounds. I topped the polenta with roasted tomatoes, basil & Parmesan and threw in a side of sauteed spinach because I wanted GREENS.  If I had planned ahead, I would have added grilled some sausage to the side but alas, I didn't.  If you've got extra time, make some polenta but if you don't, there's always a log of polenta waiting for you at the grocery store...

Roasted Tomatoes with Polenta & Spinach

serves 4

  • 6 oz. fresh spinach leaves
  • 2-3 tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 18 oz. package store bought polenta(cut into 1/4 inch rounds)
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup basil, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • salt & pepper

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in 8 inch skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté a sliced clove of garlic until slightly golden. Add a few handfuls of fresh spinach with a pinch of red pepper flakes and cook until wilted. Continue adding spinach until all is wilted & cooked down. Season with salt & pepper and transfer to a bowl.

Preheat oven to 400F. On a large baking sheet, toss tomatoes with a glug of olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes & sprinkle fresh salt & pepper on top. Roast for 15-20 minutes, or until tomatoes are bursting open and release their juices.  When done, stir in freshly torn basil and set aside.

While tomatoes are roasting, clean out skillet, add about 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil to the pan and fry polenta for 8-10 minutes per side over medium-high heat. Put 4-5 polenta rounds into each bowl. Top polenta with a few spoons full of the tomatoes. Sprinkle with freshly grated PARMESAN, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt & pepper. Serve immediately.

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  • Ellen

    Oh wow, polenta parties, I wanna have one. In the meantime, this looks incredibly satisfying...

  • Denise

    I often make a similar dish, but use creamy polenta and often add a poached egg on top as well. Love the idea of using baked polenta, for that nice contrast of crispy (polenta) and soft (tomato). Wlll try soon!

  • Tieghan

    Love this meal!! Polenta is my things and roasted tomatotes rule!

  • jenny

    I have a log of polenta languishing in my fridge. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Chelsea

    Looks great! I did a variation on this earlier this summer where I grilled the rounds with some halloumi, served with roasted tomatoes. One of my favorite meals in a while!

  • dixya| food, pleasure, and health

    That log always come very handy!

  • reesa

    That looks amazing! My family did the polenta parties too... Nonna would make one pot with rapini too so there would also be a green option. Delicious. Question for you though. Polenta rounds have always stuck to the pan on me, ruining the crispy awesome surface. I could use the non-stick but the stainless give that nice crust. What do you do? Any suggestions?

  • meg

    This sounds marvelous, and with the addition of sausage, I can sell the men of the family on it as a complete meal. (I totally think it's just fine as is, but you know.)

  • Emily @ Life on Food

    I haven't thought of this either! I love the idea though. So much easier than the large amounts of the creamy kind.

  • Make Roux

    Great sounding dish. My only complaint with pre-packaged polenta is that it tastes bland. I combat that by seasoning the polenta rounds directly with salt, pepper and herbs before pan-frying.

  • Ruthy @ Omeletta

    Love this, love polenta- and my mouth is watering at the idea of your grandmother's polenta parties! I've only heard of them and it's a life goal to throw/attend a polenta party sometime.

  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

    I need more polenta in my life. I never seem to make it myself, but this is just the recipe I need!

  • Hannah

    Wow Tracy! This is making my mouth water, looks delish!

  • mariah

    I just made a variation of this. I had to get cornmeal mush in a tube instead of the polenta because I couldn't find it at the particular grocery store I was at (wth?). I sauteed some garlic and shallot with a squirt of tomato and anchovy pastes- deglazed with a splash of white vermouth (because I am not wasting the drinking wine!) and boom. Done. WORD.

  • Kiran @ KiranTarun.com

    This is so comforting!! And I'm yet to try polenta. Must make soon!!

  • fusilliamy

    Log. Teehee!

    I have to admit I used to scoff at those logs, but this looks so dang good and fast (and getting them from TJ's helps cuz oh hey, there's cookie butter over there). When I make a big polenta batch I chill the leftovers, cut them into thick fry-like sticks, cover with panko and parm and brown them in a hot, buttery pan. Crispy cheese on the outside and creamy goodness in the middle. YUM. This has got me geared up for Fall.

  • fusilliamy

    And how could I forget about the polenta board?! I want to be best friends with this board.

  • Christina

    Shut the front door, I'm requesting a polenta party for my birthday. Although I live in the South, so it'll probably be more of a grits gathering.

  • meg

    Yum! What a wonderful idea!

  • Jayne

    I've never ever had polenta before! Am I really missing out?

  • Christina @ Scaredy Cat Kitchen

    That polenta party sounds seriously amazing! It's begging for a recreation on your blog!

  • Lisa | With Style and Grace

    I swear I could eat this combo every single day!

  • Laura (Blogging Over Thyme)

    Polenta party?! That sounds amazing. Where do I sign up?! No...seriously.

    I always seem to forget about polenta as well (especially the store-bought logs), but they really are so convenient and you can do so much with them!

  • McKel Hill, MS, RD, LDN | Nutrition Stripped

    I love the combination of roasted tomatoes and polenta- always a win win. Great recipe to try :)

  • Amanda

    #1. Polenta party sounds amazing.
    #2. Polenta *log* makes me uncomfortable.

  • Millie

    Wow! I think this could potentially turn me into a polenta lover! Roast tomatoes get me everytime!
    I live your recipes Tracy and I LOVE LOVE LOVE your style! If you have a spare moment, do you mind checking out my blog please? I'm 15 and I just started recently! Thanks :)

  • Stefanie @ Sarcastic Cooking

    I want a polenta party!!! Maybe I can talk my friends into doing that for me instead of a baby shower. hahaha! I love roasted tomatoes, I am actually making them tonight. I usually add them to pasta but I have been thinking of switching it up with some polenta. I don't have a polenta log, but I might use creamy cheesy polenta instead.

  • Lia : Dizzy Loves Icy

    Not only do I neeeeeed a polenta party, I need a polenta log!
    What?
    How? P
    Please god WHEN?

    Signed Mrs I hate living in the UK sometimes!

  • laura

    Yes! I love TJ's polenta logs; they are just so handy and I try to keep a couple in my pantry. I pan-fried rounds from one and served with just pesto, fresh tomato, mozzarella and balsamic recently – super simple but SO GOOD.

  • Heidi - Apples Under My Bed

    A polenta party?!!?! How freakin awesome, thanks for the idea! I feel I do have the time for this, better make the most of it while I'm sans children & what better way to spend my time than stirring/eating polenta. I threw a spaghetti & meatball party for Ben's birthday last year. All kinds of fun. Great recipe, thanks for the inspiration!
    Heidi xo

  • Cookie and Kate

    Polenta party! This is such a perfect, quick meal idea. Love it.

  • Amy Powell

    frying up slices of the log polenta is my favorite cheat. love how you did this!

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