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Summer Polenta Gratan

Polenta is a delicious and satisfying whole grain, both light and filling at the same time. Take time to cook the polenta slowly and carefully, until the grains have opened up. This delicious gratin is a combination of two recipes featured at the Greens Restaurant in San Francisco. Although there are several steps, it is actually simple, and very worth the time. Fresh, late season garden tomatoes, basil, and jalapenos are a wonderful addition. Polenta can be found in our Savory Pantry section on the website. 


Baked Polenta with Tomatoes, Corn and Basil

Polenta (see below)

Tomato Sauce (see below)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

3 ears of corn, shaved (about 2 ½ cups kernels


¾ pound fresh tomatoes, cored and seeded

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil


1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

1 or 2 jalapeno chilies, seeded and finely diced

8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese

Small dish of fresh grated Parmesan for the table.


Make the polenta, and while it is cooling, make the sauce. Remove bay leaf and basil just before assembling the gratin.

Heat the butter in a large skillet and add the corn. Sauté over medium heat for 10 minutes, until the corn is tender. Season with ¼ teaspoon salt. While the corn is cooking, cut the tomatoes into large pieces. You should have about 1 ½ cups. Combine the tomatoes with the olive oil, ¼ teaspoon salt, and a few pinches of pepper. Cool the corn and toss with the tomatoes, half the basil, and half the chilies. Add salt, pepper, and chilies to taste.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Pour the sauce into the bottom of a 9 by 13 inch baking dish. Arrange the polenta triangles upright in rows across the width of the dish, overlapping slightly. Spoon the tomato and corn mixture into the spaces between the triangles, separating the triangles as you go. Tuck the grated Monterey jack cheese between and over the triangles also.  Cover and bake for 25 minutes, then uncover and bake for ten minutes more. Gratin should be bubbly and golden. Sprinkle with the remaining basil, and serve. Pass a little dish of fresh grated Parmesan at the table.


6 cups water

1 ½ cups coarse cornmeal

1 ½ teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Pinch cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, about 1 ½ ounces

Lightly oil a loaf pan* and set aside. Bring the water to a rapid boil in a large saucepan and add salt. Vigorously whisk in the polenta. Reduce heat, and cook at a low boil for about 20-25 minutes, stirring frequently, until the grains have opened up and the polenta is smooth. 

Remove the pan from the heat: stir in pepper, cayenne, butter, and parmesan cheese. Pour the hot polenta into the baking dish and set aside to cool. When cool, cut into ½ inch slices, and then cut each slice diagonally into two triangles.

*Note: If you do not have a loaf pan, pour the polenta into an oiled 9 by 13 baking dish. When cool, cut into 12 squares, then cut each square into two triangles.

Tomato Sauce

I Tablespoon olive oil

1 bay leaf

1 ½ pound fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped.

Several sprigs fresh basil

Salt and pepper to taste

Warm the oil, add the tomatoes, basil and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and cook for 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let rest. Before using, remove basil sprigs.

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