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polenta topped with tomato salad on plate
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5 from 7 votes

Creamy Polenta with Tomato Herb Salad

Creamy Polenta topped with a robust tomato herb salad makes a fabulous lunch or side. Summer comfort food!
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian, Vegetarian
Servings (change as needed): 3 Main (or 6-7 Sides)
Author: Cheryl



  • 1 cup Polenta or Cornmeal (I use Bob's Red Mill Cornmeal)
  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (plus extra for garnish)

Herbed Tomatoes

  • 1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes NOTE 1 (San Marzano preferred)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 tablespoon finely chopped herbs (any combination of chives, thyme, oregano, parsley, basil, etc)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes (or more to taste) - optional
  • squeeze of lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pinch of sugar


  • MAKE POLENTA: Boil water with salt in saucepan. Slowly whisk in polenta/cornmeal, whisking constantly to avoid lumps for 1-2 minutes. Lower heat to a simmer. Keep whisking until polenta starts to thicken, about 4-5 minutes. Cover and cook, whisking every 4-5 minutes to avoid sticking on bottom of pan. (When polenta gets thicker, switch to wooden or other spoon to stir. ) Polenta is done when it's creamy, thick and not grainy. Total time for cooking should take about 30-40 minutes. Turn off heat. Stir in butter and Parmesan. Taste and add salt if needed.
  • MAKE TOMATO TOPPING: While polenta is cooking (and between stirs), drain tomatoes and squeeze them a bit to eliminate most of juices. Roughly chop and place in bowl. Add oil, herbs, salt, pepper, lemon and chili flakes (if using). Combine well. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  • SERVE: To serve family style, scoop Polenta onto a platter and top with tomatoes. Drizzle with additional olive oil if desired. Garnish with additional Parmesan cheese.


  1. To use fresh tomatoes instead of canned:  You can substitute the canned tomatoes with fresh tomatoes if they are at their summer best in peak season. Use about 2 1/2 pounds (4-5 medium tomatoes), drained, squeezed and chopped to yield about 3 cups.
  2. Make Ahead: If Polenta is made ahead, it will begin to harden. To restore to looser creaminess, add some water and rewarm on stove or in microwave, stirring as needed.
Nutrition values are estimates. 
Calories: 452kcal | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 35mg | Sodium: 1540mg | Potassium: 710mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 1060IU | Vitamin C: 30mg | Calcium: 283mg | Iron: 5mg