Sundried Tomato Polenta Bites

Yield: 24 to 30 appetizers

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Sundried Tomato Polenta Bites

This elegant appetizer is wonderful for the holidays- a little red, a little green... very festive and delicious too!


2 2/3 cups whole milk
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1 cup yellow cornmeal or polenta
1/3 cup olive oil (more or less), for frying

1/2 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves, rinsed and dried
1/4 cup shelled pistachios
2 Tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

2 ounces goat cheese, cut into small chunks
1/3 cup sundried tomatoes packed in oil, drained & cut into smaller pieces
chopped pistachio, optional
sea salt


1. Prepare polenta bites: Lightly oil 13x9-inch baking pan. Bring first 4 ingredients to simmer in a large saucepan over medium heat; simmer 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove herbs and garlic. Whisk in cornmeal in a slow steady stream; return to boil. Reduce heat to low. Simmer until the polenta is very thick, whisking often, about 10 minutes. Turn polenta out into prepared pan; spread to 1/2-inch thick layer- don't worry about making it perfect- just spread it out as even as you can. Let it cool completely. When the polenta is cool, use a 1 to a 1 1/2-inch round cutter to cut out 24 to 30 polenta rounds (as many as you can).

2. Prepare pesto: Place basil, pistachios and cheese in a mini processor Blend to create a coarse puree. Add olive oil and blend until pesto is smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Pour about 1/3 cup olive oil into a large nonstick skillet to coat the bottom; heat over medium-high heat. Saute polenta rounds until they are lightly browned, about 1 minute on each side; transfer to paper towels to drain.

4. Assemble: Top each polenta round with a small amount of pesto, a chunk of goat cheese and sundried tomato. Add a few chopped pistachios too, if you'd like. Finish them with a sprinkle of sea salt.


*I like to use Bob's Red Mill brand Corn Grits (Polenta).
*Make-ahead tip: Prepare the polenta rounds as described in step 1 up to two days ahead; cover and chill.
*Make ahead tip: Prepare the pesto up to 1 day ahead; cover and chill. For a quick & easy sub- use store bought pesto in place of the homemade.
*Make ahead tip: Fry the polenta rounds up to 4 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature, then re-warm in 375 degree oven for 5 minutes before adding toppings and serving.
*Serve this warmed, but they're still good when they come to room temperature too.

Source: (Loosely adapted from Bon Appetit)


  1. postedDec 27, 2017 9:12 PM

    Do you think there is anything you could envision substituting for the goat cheese? 

    • postedDec 29, 2017 6:37 AM

      Feta would be fine– or anything else that would be crumbly.

  2. postedMay 11, 2017 9:52 PM

    Hi there, these sound great. Do you know if the polenta bites would freeze well? I want to make them for a party in September, but have quite a few other things to make as well, so need to get as much made ahead and frozen as possible. 

    • postedMay 24, 2017 7:02 PM

      I have not tried freezing them. I’d say the best thing to do would be to try it out ahead of time and see if it works!

  3. postedJan 7, 2017 2:04 PM

    Any reason you don’t season your polenta with salt and pepper?  

    • postedJan 8, 2017 8:10 AM

      You can certainly do that!

  4. postedDec 7, 2016 7:20 AM

    I have quite a few dairy-intolerant people in my family….could you substitute stock for the milk?

    • postedDec 18, 2016 4:14 PM

      I’m not quite sure!

  5. postedJun 13, 2016 9:40 AM

    Has anyone tried freezing the polenta rounds?

  6. postedJan 11, 2016 1:31 PM
    Margaret Nunnelley

    Made these last night for relatives.

    Only hard part was getting them to not stick to the skillet.

    They are so yummy though. Definitely will make them again. Soon!!

  7. postedJul 10, 2015 3:44 PM
    Amy Mikolay

    Just made my very first. Batch of homemade polenta using your recipe. I can’t wait to finish it off tomorrow and have my first taste. Thank you for sharing this recipe

  8. postedJun 29, 2015 10:10 PM


    I can’t wait to make this recipe, it looks great!!!  I was wondering if I could cut the recipe for the polenta in half since I will be making it for just 3 people the first time.  

    Thanks so much


  9. postedMar 16, 2015 1:01 PM

    You are a lifesaver!  I am catering a wedding next month and was looking for a base for thinly cut beef w/chimichurri sauce.  I wonder if they can be made then frozen.  I might try to do just that in the next few days.  Thanks!

    • postedMar 21, 2015 6:52 AM

      I haven’t tried freezing these. Definitely try it out and let us know if it works out!

  10. postedNov 19, 2014 12:15 PM

    These sound yummy, but appear to be far more involved than there is time for when preparing the main holiday meal. I will definitely give them a try after the holidays when time allows.

    • postedNov 23, 2014 8:39 PM

      They’re not quick and easy, but they’re great to make ahead and serve for an elegant holiday party.

  11. postedDec 25, 2013 9:05 PM
    Jan Voris

    We must think the same way. I’m all about from scratch whenever possible but shortcuts when necessary, such as the jar pesto. Also make ahead recipes speak loudly to me. I’ll make these soon.

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