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Cornmeal polenta is Italian peasant food that tastes surprisingly savory, comforting and homey, while still maintaining an air of elegance.

Rosemary Roasted Tomatoes with Polenta | A Couple Cooks

This recipe is one we developed as a cozy, romantic meal, but it truly works for any day, special or everyday. When we first started cooking, polenta seemed like such a glamorous food – though we didn’t even know what it was! Turns out it’s simply cornmeal, boiled and thickened into somewhat of a porridge. Cornmeal polenta is Italian peasant food that tastes surprisingly savory, comforting and homey, while still maintaining an air of elegance. Keep reading for our cornmeal polenta and roasted tomatoes recipe!

How to make cornmeal polenta

Here’s a simple, creamy cornmeal polenta recipe that requires few ingredients and very little effort on your part. Cornmeal, water, and butter make for a polenta that’s thick and slightly sweet in flavor. All you have to do is boil water, then whisk in the cornmeal, stirring frequently to avoid lumps. Then cook the cornmeal polenta for about 20 minutes. For added flavor, you can stir in some shredded cheese when you mix in the butter, if you’d like.

If you make the polenta in advance and refrigerate, keep in mind that cooked polenta gets hard in the fridge. When you reheat it, you can make it soft again by mixing it with a little milk or water on the stovetop and whisking until it reaches your desired consistency. Another thing to keep in mind when making this homemade polenta recipe is that you cannot substitute grits for the cornmeal. Grits are coarser than cornmeal, which won’t give you the texture you want.

If you’d like to make this a vegan meal, substitute in our Creamy Vegan Polenta Recipe.

How to roast tomatoes

We’ve combined this cornmeal polenta with tomatoes roasted with rosemary, a dish we’ve been eating on and off all winter. Interestingly, we’ve used canned fire roasted tomatoes here: so they’re doubly roasted! Roasting these tomatoes with fresh rosemary and garlic takes them to a whole new level. To roast them, simply cut the whole tomatoes in half, and top with sliced garlic and rosemary sprigs. Pop them in the oven and roast at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes.

This dish is perfection topped with a fried egg. It makes it even creamier and a bit more filling, but it’s also delicious without (as we’ve shown in the photograph).

This has been one of our favorites lately, as we wait out the long winter. What are some of your favorite comforting, homey dishes?

Looking for more polenta recipes?

Outside of this cornmeal polenta, here are a few of our favorite recipes using polenta:

This cornmeal polenta recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free.

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Polenta with tomatoes

Roasted Tomatoes with Cornmeal Polenta

  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x


Cornmeal polenta is Italian peasant food that tastes surprisingly savory, comforting and homey, while still maintaining an air of elegance.



For the roasted tomatoes

  • 2 28-ounce cans fire roasted whole tomatoes
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 4 sprigs rosemary

For the cornmeal polenta (or vegan polenta)

  • 1 ½ cups cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 4 eggs, for serving


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Slice the garlic. Thoroughly drain the tomatoes, and slice them in half. In a bowl, toss the garlic and tomatoes with the olive oil, kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper. Roughly tear the sprigs of rosemary into a few large pieces and mix them into the tomatoes.
  3. Pour the tomatoes into a baking dish and roast for 45 minutes, stirring once or twice.
  4. Meanwhile, make the cornmeal polenta: Bring 6 cups water to boil in a medium saucepan. When the water boils, whisk in the  cornmeal in a slow steady stream, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Continue whisking until the polenta begins to thicken (around 1 to 2 minutes). Add the kosher salt.
  5. Reduce the heat so that the polenta bubbles slowly. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes until the cornmeal loses its raw flavor (taste every so often to check). Then turn off the heat and stir in the butter, milk, a few pinches kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. (Cover to keep it warm before serving. If the polenta becomes too thick, stir in a bit more milk or water to loosen it up.)
  6. While the polenta cooks, fry the eggs in a skillet.
  7. Remove the rosemary pieces from the tomatoes prior to serving. To serve, place polenta in a bowl, then top with roasted tomatoes and a fried egg.
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: Cornmeal Polenta, Polenta Recipe, How to Make Polenta, Italian Recipes, Vegetarian Main Dish Recipes

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you’ll want to make again and again.

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  1. I think this meal is pretty romantic. The deep burning red of tomatoes against the creamy grain of polenta, is hard to get wrong especially if you are cooking for a new mate.
    Also the lack of messy things means that you will still look good after eating. I hope you two have a lovely Val’s day too.

  2. I’ve never thought of roasting tinned tomatoes like this – what a clever idea! I love the sound of this dish, creamy and flavourful comfort food.

  3. This looks divine! I usually make polenta with roasted vegetables at least once a week when I need a quick meal. I’ve never thought about roasting canned tomatoes versus getting some sad looking ‘fresh’ ones at the market (or… at least as ‘fresh’ as it comes for tomatoes in February in the Midwest). I bet they are SO much more flavorful with your method – great to know!

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