Caprese-Style Polenta Cakes

I grew up eating a lot of Polenta. Polenta can be compared to what we know as grits. It’s an Italian dish made by boiling cornmeal which then becomes a thick solidified porridge. The good news is polenta is a blank canvas allowing you to add all types of flavorings and served in a number of different ways.

Today I thought I’d add flavors like, diced tomatoes, mozzarella, and fresh basil, then turn them into polenta cakes. Crunchy on the outside, yet soft and creamy on the inside.

I like to serve my Caprese-Style Polenta Cakes with a simple mixed green salad dressed with my quick and easy Lemon Vinaigrette.

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Kosher Salt (2)

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Sweet Basil (2)

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All-Purpose Flour

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Olive Oil

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Flat Leaf Italian Parsley



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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 2 to 3 minutes per side (fry 2 per batch)
Total Time: Time will vary depending on the number of planned servings
Yields: 36 triangles in total (18 triangles per sheet pan)
Equipment: 2 rimmed baking sheet pans, 1 (6-quart) saucepot, 2 medium-size mixing bowls, rubber spatula, parchment paper, non-stick cooking spray, 1 (12-inch) sauté pan

2 1/2 cups of quick-cooking polenta
7 cups of water
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
5 tablespoons of butter, unsalted (2 tablespoons reserved for frying polenta)
1 tablespoon of olive oil (for frying polenta)
1/2 a cup of heavy cream
2 cups of plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
2 cups of (low-moisture) whole milk Mozzarella cheese, freshly grated
1/2 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
1 cup of finely chopped basil, chiffonade-style
2 tablespoons of Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped for garnish

3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup of cornmeal
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon of kosher salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper

Total Amount Of Fat Needed To Fry Both Sheet Pans Of Polenta:
4 1/2 sticks of butter, unsalted
Approx. 1 1/4 cups of olive oil

Preheat oven to 200-degrees F.
I like for my Polenta to be a bit looser in consistency than to be too thick. Let me explain. Typically, it’s 1 cup of Polenta per 2 cups of water. I prefer using 1 cup of Polenta per 3 cups of water.

For this recipe, I’m using 2 1/2 cups of Polenta to 7 cups of water. This will yield 2 (1/4 size) sheet pans of Polenta around 1 1/2 inches thickness once it’s set.

Spray both sheet pans with non-stick cooking spray. Cut  the parchment paper slightly larger than the size of the pans, allowing a little extra to hang over the edges. Line the baking sheet pans with parchment paper to ensure they stay secure. This will allow for easy removal, later, of the chilled Polenta.

Start by dicing the tomatoes, grate the mozzarella, and chop the basil leaves. Set aside.

Bring a large saucepot of water to a boil. Once the water comes to a hard boil add Kosher salt then slowly whisk in the Polenta. You’ll start to see how fast the water gets absorbed and the Polenta starts to thicken. Sprinkle in the fresh ground black pepper, whisk to combine.

At this point, turn the heat off and add in 3 tablespoons of butter. Switch to a wooden spoon, stir until the butter is completely combined and melted into the polenta.

Next, add the heavy cream, continuously stirring until the cream is completely combined. At this point, the Polenta thickens even more. Add the diced tomatoes and freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and mozzarella, stir to combine. Finally, add the chiffonade basil, again stir to combine.

Using a rubber spatula, dump the polenta equally dividing it between the two sheet pans. Spread the mixture out so the polenta is evenly distributed throughout the pan. Transfer the sheet pans to the refrigerator allowing the polenta to chill and set.

After chilling for 2 hours, score the polenta into thirds, both lengthwise and crosswise. Then cut each square diagonally into triangles.

In a medium-size mixing bowl, add equal parts flour and cornmeal, Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, whisk to combine. together with some Kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. In another bowl, add 3 eggs, using a fork, beat the eggs.

Preheat oven to 200-degrees F.
In a non-stick sauté pan, over medium heat melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Carefully dip the triangle of Polenta into the beaten eggs, then into the cornmeal/flour mixture, then into the hot pan. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side. You just want to get a nice golden crust on the outside of the Polenta cakes. Do this in batches of (3) three. Do not overcrowd the pan.

After about 2 minutes of frying the cakes off on one side, take a peek, using a spatula, and see if they need another minute before flipping to the other side. Set the finished polenta cakes on a sheet pan and transfer to the oven to stay warm while frying the remaining polenta cakes

The great thing about this dish is everything that can be done in advance, and you don’t have to make them all at one time. The chilled Polenta will keep in the frig for up to 3 days. Make sure to cover tightly with plastic wrap. You can enjoy these for breakfast, brunch/lunch, or dinner.

To serve. Arrange two of my Caprese-Style Polenta Cakes onto a serving plate. Sprinkle with finely chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley. Serve with a mixed greens salad. For my Lemon Vinaigrette recipe click on the link below.

There you have it, my Caprese-Style Polenta Cakes.

*E.V.O.O. is the acronym for Extra Virgin olive oil.