Crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, vegetarian, family friendly deliciousness for dinner.

Prep Time: 45 minutes Cook Time: 30 minutes


  • 1 c Cornmeal
  • 1 c Cold water
  • 2 Tbsp Butter
  • 2 c vegetable stock
  • 1/2 c Red Bell Pepper, diced (about 1/2 large Pepper)
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 3/4 c Parmesan Cheese, Grated (2 oz)
  • salt to taste
  • Oil for frying. I used coconut oil. Other good options are canola, peanut, or grapeseed
Le Ingredients.


1.Firstly combine the cornmeal and cold water in a bowl. Stir to combine (it will look like wet sand). Let stand 5 minutes. This is an awesome trick I learned years ago. It will allow the cornmeal to soak up some liquid, consequently making the final product creamier and lump free.

2. Next, Heat butter in a medium saucepan. Saute peppers and shallot 2-3 minutes stirring regularly, just until they are translucent. Then add the vegetable stock and salt. Bring to a boil.

Mmmmmm. Look at that sizzle.

3. Next, add the soaked cornmeal into the boiling stock mixture. Be sure you keep stirring while the polenta comes to a boil. Once the polenta thickens, add the parmesan cheese and keep stirring. If the polenta seems too thick or dry, taste it. If it has a grainy texture, then add more vegetable stock or water.

Smooth like silk… or mashed potatoes.

4. After that, spread the polenta onto a sheet pan or plate in a 1/4″ – 1/2″ layer. Place this uncovered in the refrigerator to cool and stiffen for at least 30 minutes.

Polenta Pancake. Panlentacake.

5. After it chills out, your polenta should be firm and cuttable. Now comes the fun part. Cut the polenta into whatever shape you want. You can use cookie cutters or cut your cake into squares like cutting a sheet cake.

Mickey Mouse and Unicorns, sounds yummy. Kids cookie/play dough cutters are great.

6. Meanwhile, heat your oil in a flat bottomed saute pan. Make sure your oil is good and hot before putting your polenta shapes in. But too early and they will be more likely to stick. I don’t mean smoking, fire-hazard hot – aim for about 350 F (177 C).

7. Carefully place a few polenta shapes into your hot pan. (I say carefully because I may have a few oil burn to show for my carelessness) Above all, DO NOT TOUCH THEM for 2-3 minutes. The outside of your polenta is getting crispy and delicious and will start to loosen up when they are ready, assuming you listened to the previous step.

Wish I had my non-stick pan in this hotel.

8. Using a spatula, flip the polenta cake over. If there are still sticking concerns, scrape underneath with your spatula repeatedly until the whole thing releases. Allow the cakes to cook another 2 minutes. Remove from pan and place on a rack or a plate with paper towels. These ones came out dark and toasty, just the way Mama P likes them.

9. Finally, Serve with your favorite Marinara sauce on top and maybe a green vegetable to for a balanced meal.

Fitting into the Vegetarian Kitchen

Polenta is one of my favorite dishes to make for family dinner or parties, its very versatile. If I’m in a hurry I’ll just make it creamy, therefore skip all of the cutting and frying. However, when I have the time, the motivation, or the company to impress, I whip the cakes.

When I say that this dish is versatile, you have no idea. Think of any combo of ingredients and it will work here. For instance, try Spinach/Feta, Bacon/Cheddar, or maybe banana/chocolate (Okay, that might be taking it too far).

Mama P has been a vegetarian (Lacto-Ovo for those of you who love to ask “How do you eat cheese then”) for as long as I’ve known her. In short, many meals in our home begin with a grain and escalate to a flavorful entree. In this case the polenta is a base to start with. The cheese, peppers, and marinara are what make it flavorful nutrient filled dinner.

Try this recipe at home and let me know what you think. Let me know what kind of exciting flavors you explore. Bonus points to whoever makes chocolate and banana polenta cakes.

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