Baked Polenta With Parmesan Cheese

Easy Baked Polenta With Parmesan Cheese

The Spruce

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Rest and CHill: 70 mins
Total: 110 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
305 Calories
29g Fat
7g Carbs
5g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
×
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 305
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 29g 37%
Saturated Fat 18g 90%
Cholesterol 79mg 26%
Sodium 1130mg 49%
Total Carbohydrate 7g 3%
Dietary Fiber 0g 2%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 5g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 144mg 11%
Iron 0mg 2%
Potassium 53mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Although most associate polenta with Italy, this wonderful dish is common in many parts of Europe and can be served either soft or solidified, and later grilled or pan-fried according to the cook's taste. Similar dishes are well known in Central America, where corn was domesticated, and many Hispanic recipes feature a cooked corn like this one to make tortillas, arepas, or pupusas. Even corn tamales are made with pre-cooked corn, so variations on this dish are ubiquitous around the world.

This easy dish is the classic recipe for baked polenta, a moist and flavorful side dish that is excellent alongside any protein, vegetable, or soup that you're serving for dinner. This version is vegetarian—some baked polentas have lard or other animal fats—and can be easily made into a vegan dish when swapping the dairy ingredients for vegan alternatives. Polenta is naturally gluten-free, so people who adhere to this diet can safely eat it. With one dish, five ingredients, and very little cleanup, you can check many different dietary needs boxes.

Less doughy than cornbread, and a lot firmer than creamed polenta, this loaf can be un-molded and easily sliced with a sharp knife. If you can find authentic Italian polenta at the store that's an amazing choice, but the more available yellow stone-ground grits or medium grind cornmeal also will make a wonderful dish. The polenta needs to rest before hitting the oven, so plan accordingly.

Ingredients

  •  4 cups water, divided

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted; plus more for greasing the pan

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup polenta, grits

  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for baked polenta
    The Spruce
  2. Butter a 7.5x4.5-inch loaf pan and set aside.

    Butter loaf pan
    The Spruce 
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, stir together one cup of cold water, salt, and polenta meal.

    Mix polenta and water
    The Spruce
  4. Using the top of a double boiler, bring the remaining cups of water to a boil over direct heat.

    Boil water
    The Spruce
  5. Then gradually stir in the cornmeal mixture to the top of the double boiler and cook for 5 minutes.

    Stir in
    The Spruce 
  6. While that's cooking, take the bottom portion of the double boiler and add just enough water to hit the top part when inserted. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and keep at a simmer.

    Boiling water
    The Spruce 
  7. Place the top of the double boiler, over the bottom of the double boiler with hot water and cook for an additional 4 minutes, stirring often.

    Mix
    The Spruce
  8. Pour the cooked polenta into the prepared loaf pan and chill until firm. Allow it to cool at room temperature for at least ten minutes and then place in the fridge for one hour.

    Pour polenta into loaf pan
    The Spruce
  9. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Remove the chilled polenta from the loaf pan and slice it with a sharp knife.

    Cut polenta
    The Spruce
  10. Place the slices on a greased shallow baking dish, overlapping the slices if needed.

    Put slices of polenta on tray
    The Spruce
  11. Pour the melted butter over the polenta and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.

    Pour the melted butter over the polenta
    The Spruce
  12. Bake in the preheated oven, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

    Baked polenta
    The Spruce
  13. Enjoy!

How to Use and Serve Baked Polenta

Baked polenta is a beautiful side dish to beef, chicken, turkey, veal, or fish, but can be a stand-alone main when other ingredients are added. Here are a few ideas on how to use this versatile dish:

  • Vegetarian lunch: Place a few slices of baked polenta and top with stir-fried or grilled vegetables. Add an extra grate of Parmesan on top, and serve with a simple tomato salad.
  • Vegan meal: Swap the butter and cheese for vegan alternatives, follow the recipe as directed with the same measurements. Once the loaf is baked and sliced, place a few slices on a plate and cover with tomato sauce and the steamed vegetables of your liking. For a heartier meal, add a tofu steak to the spread.
  • Meat lovers: Place a few of the baked polenta slices on a plate and cover with a generous amount of Bolognese sauce or any meaty stew that you'd like. Top with fresh herbs like parsley or cilantro.
  • Polenta Breakfast: Before you bake your polenta slices, crack a few eggs on top. Bake, covered, for 10 minutes and then uncovered for the remaining 10, or until the eggs are done to your liking. Add fresh cilantro on top. Fresh salsa and avocado slices are great accompaniments to this breakfast dish.