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Guest Post: Garlicky Grilled Polenta with Warmed Great Northern Bean Bruschetta

September Cooking Tool of the Month – Grill 

Today’s guest post looks delish. I love polenta and I’ve had it grilled at restaurants before but have never done it myself! Thanks to Cadry for this great recipe and helping me post while I’m away in Portland. PDX friends hope to see you at the NW VegFest tomorrow. Come by my cooking class at 2pm to learn about plant-protein and try samples!! 

polenta on the grill

Garlicky Grilled Polenta with Warmed Great Northern Bean Bruschetta by Cadry

When I was a kid one of my favorite wintertime meals was a big tray of shared polenta.  This dish took family-style to new levels as one large platter was laid down in the center of the dinner table, spread with creamy polenta and covered in marinara.  With forks at the ready, my parents, brothers, and I would dig in to the oversized platter, each of us eating towards the center.  Definitely not for germophobes or those suffering from a seasonal flu, there was something unifying and comforting about sharing a giant plate of polenta together – like an Italian take on the Ethiopian wot.  (Plus, it was a lucky night for whoever was on dish duty!)

Comforting winter meals have their place, but I’m of the mind that grilling makes almost every food taste better.  It gives an edge of smokiness and charred nuttiness that can only be achieved with the benefit of fire.  Plus, there is no lovelier “kitchen” than a backyard patio with a gentle breeze, the smell of fresh-cut grass, and the sounds of songbirds.  Warmed Great Northern bean bruschetta over grilled polenta takes the essence of that cozy wintertime meal and gives it a lighter, summer flare.  As an added bonus, since it’s served in individual portions, you can even invite that friend of yours for dinner who’s struggling with an end-of-summer cold.

Cooking Polenta

For this dish, fresh, creamy polenta is prepared and then poured into a lightly oiled 8×8 baking dish to cool in the refrigerator for at least four hours or over night.  Once stiffened, the polenta can be cut into small circles and layered with tomato and bean bruschetta for a stacking effect, or simplified by cutting it into four large squares.

My favorite brand is the fine grain organic polenta from de la Estancia.  It’s not an instant product, but it cooks in just one minute. (If you’re using another brand of polenta, you’ll want to adjust the broth/water ratios and cooking times accordingly.)  Crunched for time?  Feel free to use pre-made chubs of polenta from the shelf stable aisles of your grocery store.  Just cut the pre-made polenta into one inch thick slices, lightly coat with oil, grill as directed below, and top with bruschetta.

Grilled Polenta by Cadry's Kitchen

Garlicky Grilled Polenta

Serves 4

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil + extra to oil baking dish & polenta

3 cups vegetable broth (or water + 1 vegan vegetable bouillon cube)

1 cup fine polenta

1/3 cup rice milk (or any unflavored non-dairy milk)

¼ cup nutritional yeast flakes

Salt, to taste



Lightly oil 8×8 glass baking dish and set aside.  In a small to medium sized pot, sauté garlic in one teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil until fragrant.  Add broth to the pot (or water + bouillon, if using) and bring to a simmer.  Turn heat to low, and slowly pour in the polenta, stirring constantly until the polenta thickens and pulls from the sides of the pot (about one minute if using fine grain polenta).  Add rice milk and nutritional yeast flakes.  Stir in completely, and add salt and pepper to taste.  Pour the polenta into the baking dish and refrigerate overnight or for at least four hours.

Once the polenta has hardened, bring the grill to a medium heat (about 500 degrees).  Cut the polenta into four large squares or 8 small circles for stacking.  Lightly coat both sides of the polenta with extra virgin olive oil.  Grill for 8 -10 minutes, flipping once halfway through.  Once the polenta has warmed through with nice grill marks, remove it from the grill.  Top each portion of polenta with a few generous spoonfuls of the bruschetta, and serve immediately.

Warmed Great Northern Bean Bruschetta

Makes about 3 ½ cups

2 medium tomatoes, diced (about two cups)

1 1/2 Tablespoons fresh basil, minced

1 ½ teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1 ½ cups (or 1 15 ounce can) Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

Salt & pepper, to taste



In a medium sized bowl combine tomatoes, basil, balsamic vinegar, and Great Northern Beans, and set aside.  In a medium sized pot, sauté garlic in extra virgin olive oil over a medium heat until fragrant.  Add tomato & bean bruschetta to the pot and cook until warm, about five minutes.  (Don’t cook too long, so that the tomatoes still hold their shape and freshness.)  Add salt & pepper to taste.

Cadry's HeadshotAfter getting her degree in theatre, Cadry lived and worked as an actress in Los Angeles for over a decade, where she performed in touring children’s theatre shows all across the southland.  Now she works those creative muscles making humorous vegan-oriented videos, claymation cooking demonstrations, and recipes aplenty on her blog, Cadry’s Kitchen.  She is a recipe contributor for The Compassionate Cooks Club and the online 30 Day Vegan Challenge, and also contributed recipes to Vegan’s Daily Companion.  When she’s not chopping garlic, you can find Cadry in the pottery studio making hand-built ceramics, on the bike path, or meandering a dusty hiking trail. 

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  1. I also grew up with polenta – it's so comforting and satisfying.  The next morning, we would always have fried polenta for breakfast, drizzled with maple syrup.  It's making a renaissance in my life – I recently tried my hand at a polenta pizza (although ended up finding out that medium grind cornmeal worked better), creating both savory and sweet versions.  I will definitely give this a try – I'm sure the smoky flavor is amazing with the polenta.  Thanks!

    1. Fried polenta drizzled with maple syrup sounds like a lovely weekend dish and a sweet memory!  I like how you referred to its second coming as making a renaissance in your life.  It's interesting how those foods that make their mark on our young lives sometimes come back around again for another turn.  

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