Herb and Tomato Polenta

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 45 min
  • Active: 45 min
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings
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1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 pint grape tomatoes 

1 clove garlic, thinly sliced 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup grated Parmesan

2 tablespoons unsalted butter 

Cooked Polenta, recipe follows

1/4 to 1/2 cup milk, as needed 

Zest of 1 lemon 

4 to 6 leaves fresh basil, torn 

Cooked Polenta:

Pinch of baking soda

Kosher salt

1 1/2 cups medium-grind stone-ground cornmeal


  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and tomatoes. Cook the tomatoes, stirring occasionally, until they start to blister and release some of their juices, 8 to 10 minutes. Toss in the garlic and season generously with salt and pepper. Cook another 1 minute, then remove from the heat.
  2. In a saucepan over low heat, stir the Parmesan and butter into the Cooked Polenta, thinning with milk as desired. Turn off the heat, stir in the lemon zest, taste for seasoning and add salt if necessary.
  3. Transfer the polenta to a serving bowl. Use a spoon to create a shallow well and top with the tomatoes, torn basil, some black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.

Cooked Polenta:

  1. Bring 6 cups of water to a rolling boil in a heavy-bottomed 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting, add the baking soda and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and pour the cornmeal into the water in a very slow stream from a measuring cup, all the while whisking in a circular motion to prevent lumps.
  2. Cook, vigorously stirring the polenta with a wooden spoon for about 10 seconds once every 5 minutes and making sure to scrape clean the bottom and corners of the pot, until the polenta has lost its raw cornmeal taste and becomes soft and smooth, about 30 minutes. If the polenta looks like it's drying out too quickly, continue cooking with the lid on. Cooked Polenta recipe courtesy of Jeff Mauro.