Bread & Grains/ Dinner/ Italian recipes/ One-pot recipes/ Pasta/ Side Dishes/ Soups & Stews/ Vegetarian

Grilled Garlicky Polenta served with Caponata

4 August 2020

This vegetarian dish is great to prepare ahead, the flavours are even better the next day! The Grilled Polenta is inspired by a recipe from @shelovesbiscotti.

Tastes better the next day 😉 When ready to serve add shredded basil leaves and toasted almonds. I love the crunch and flavour the toasted almonds give, but traditionally pine nuts are added, which is also delicious!

Grilled Garlicky Polenta served with Caponata

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Dinner Italian
By Saffron Serves: 4-6
Prep Time: 30 minutes Cooking Time: 45 minutes Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes + time to let the polenta set


  • Polenta - recipe by She Loves Biscotti
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter + extra to grease the baking dish
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp rosemary fresh, finely chopped
  • pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • Pepper & Salt to taste
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups low fat milk
  • 2 cups polenta cornmeal
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese freshly grated
  • olive oil for brushing
  • Caponata
  • 1 red pepper, charred and steamed to peel off the skin
  • 1 aubergine, chopped into 1 cm cubes
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 tin ansjovis, chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tin tomatoes (whole tomatoes, not cubes)
  • 2-3 tbsp capers
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Handful pitted black olives
  • To serve
  • Fresh torn basil
  • 1 cup toasted almonds




Grease a 20 x 30 cm baking dish with butter. Set aside.


In a large, heavy pot, heat the olive oil and butter.


Add the garlic, rosemary, crushed red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.


Sauté the herbs for ± 1 minute.


Add the vegetable broth and the milk and bring to a boil.


Remove the saucepan from the heat and slowly whisk in the cornmeal.


Return the saucepan to the heat and stir with a wooden spoon until mixture begins to thicken and starts to boil. Be careful not to burn yourself (this takes ± 2 minutes).


Remove from heat.


Add the cheese and stir to combine.


Spread polenta in the baking dish.


Refrigerate until firm, minimum 1 hour, can also be overnight.


Remove the polenta from the fridge one hour before grilling it.


Cut the polenta in triangle shapes (or whatever shape you prefer).


Brush both sides with some olive oil.


Grill the polenta a few minutes on each side until heated through.



Start by grilling a red pepper on a gas flame or under the grill until charred, put in a plastic ziplock bag to steam.


After 10 minutes take out, remove the blackened skin and chop into bite size pieces.


Grilled red pepper is not a classic ingredient, but I love the smokey flavour it adds to the dish.


Sauté aubergine cubes on medium to low heat in a good glug of olive oil until starting to brown, ± 15 minutes. Season and set aside.


In the same pan sauté 1 chopped onion and 4 sliced garlic cloves until glassy and fragrant.


Add a small tin of ansjovis, break them down with the spoon and stir through until starting to dissolve (you can leave these out if you want to keep it vegetarian).


Add 1 tbps of tomato paste and stir through, ± 2 minutes.


Add 1 tin of tomatoes and sauté for ± 3-4 minutes.


Add the aubergine, 2-3 tbsp of capers, 2 tbsp of red wine vinegar, 1 tsp of sugar and a handful of olives.


Turn the heat down, leaving the lid off the pan so it can slowly reduce down, ± 30 minutes.


If it gets a bit too dry in between just add a drop of water. Keep tasting and add more red wine vinegar to taste.



For the tinned tomatoes I always use the whole tomatoes, never the chopped version, I find these have much more flavour. When in the pot I just break them down with a wooden spoon. The best ones I find are from the brand Mutti from San Marzano.


The polenta is best to make a day ahead and let set in the fridge before grilling. It also freezes really well, so make a bigger batch and some at hand in the freezer ready for a quick meal.

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