Cheesy Polenta with Grilled Cherry Tomato Sauce

By • August 16, 2011 • 26 Comments



Author Notes: I love cherry tomatoes. They are delightful little flavor bombs. I most commonly eat them as nature intended, because they are as close to perfect as can be. I decided to turn them into a sauce, leaving some of them whole to burst in the mouth. I combined the sauce with some cheesy polenta for a comforting but fresh meal. The sauce could also be used over grilled summer squash or eggplant, grilled polenta slices, pasta, or gnocchi.hardlikearmour

Food52 Review: A plump, juicy tomato bursts in your mouth, gushing forth toasty warmth and a bit of zing from a splash of red wine vinegar. Beneath the red sauce lays a bed of cheesy, creamy, oh-so-good polenta, the corn grits taken to a new level with the addition of fontina and mascarpone cheese. Tomatoes, the highlight of the season, receive a boost from being grilled and the added hint of spice from the red pepper and tang from the vinegar. With the first bite, this dish became one of my new comforting favorites.snowcitygirl

Serves 3 to 4 (makes approximately 1 1/2 cups sauce)

Grilled Cherry Tomato Sauce

  • 1 pound cherry tomatoes
  • 1 3/4-inch thick slice from a large sweet onion
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium to large clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon table or fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano
  1. Heat your grill to medium. Toss 3/4 of the largest cherry tomatoes with a tablespoon of olive oil. Coat the onion slice with olive oil. Either use a vegetable basket for grilling or thread the tomatoes onto skewers. Grill the tomatoes until grill marks appear and tomatoes are soft (about 3 to 4 minutes), turning or stirring once. Carefully thread the onion slice onto 2 skewers, trying to keep the skewers going through the center of the slice (optional, but helps prevent loss of the smaller rings, and facilitates turning). Grill onion until semi-translucent and grill marks appear, turning once (about 4 to 6 minutes.)
  2. Transfer tomatoes to the bowl of a food processor, and process until fairly smooth. Coarsely chop the onion, then add it to the tomatoes. Pulse in a food processor until no large pieces of onion remain.
  3. In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and red pepper and sauté, stirring continuously, until the garlic is fragrant (about 1 minute). Add tomato and onion mixture, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper. Simmer for several minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened slightly.
  4. Add the remaining cherry tomatoes to the mix, and cook for a minute or two until tomatoes are warmed through. Stir in thyme and oregano. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt or additional vinegar if needed. Serve over creamy polenta, pasta, or grilled vegetables.

Cheesy Polenta with Grilled Cherry Tomato Sauce

  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • 3/4 teaspoons table or fine sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cup polenta
  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese, divided
  • 3 ounces Italian fontina cheese, cubed or grated
  • Grilled Cherry Tomato Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
  1. Bring water and salt to a boil in a 3-quart saucepan over high heat. Gradually whisk in polenta, and reduce heat to low. Gently simmer polenta until thickened, stirring frequently. The time on this will vary depending on your polenta, but it should take approximately 20 to 30 minutes. (If your polenta is done before your sauce, cover and remove from heat. When ready to proceed whisk in an additional 1/4 to 1/2 cup water to loosen.)
  2. Stir in half of the mascarpone and all of the fontina. Taste and add additional salt if needed. Divide into bowls, and top each portion with tomato sauce, a dollop of mascarpone, and a sprinkling of fresh thyme. Dig in!
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12 months ago anotherfoodieblogger

Oooh yumm! I think a fried egg would go delicious with this too. My cherry tomato plants are just starting to ripen, can't wait to start using them up!

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12 months ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Mine are too! And a fried egg makes anything better :-)

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almost 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I am making this and cannot find Italian fontina near me, I don't have time to go on a search for this, can you recommend another cheese I can use instead. I found a danish fontina, would that do?

New_years_kitchen_hlc_only

almost 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Should work fine . . . I'd add a touch of Parmigiano as well. ;o)

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almost 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Thanks Antoniajames, I am definitely adding PR.

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almost 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

I like AJ's addition of the Parm. The Italian fontina has a strong flavor. I think a sharp cheddar would work well, too.

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almost 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I know Italian fontina is stronger than the danish which is why I thought maybe there is another cheese. I was thinking of piave vecchio and I love the addition of the PR.

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almost 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

OOOh, I love the idea of the Piave Vecchio! Do let me know how it works out for you. It's definitely open to a variety of cheeses!

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almost 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Yes I will have company coming this weekend, one is Italian making boulangere's lovely pasta and tuna dish and your polenta recipe. I bought the piave i think it will be really good in the polenta with the mascarpone and Pr, Will let you know how it turns out, I made a huge batch of my tomato balsamic jam which will go on top of the polenta.

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almost 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

That sounds delicious!

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almost 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I am going back and commenting on recipes that I have made and this is one, forgive me for being deliquent. I made this the weekend I had company and it was a HUGE hit. The polenta was creamy and cheesy and just plain wonderful. My guests were in heaven, one is from Italy and had not had polenta for a long time. He could not stop raving about it.

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almost 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Wow! Thanks for such a lovely comment. I'm thrilled you and your guests enjoyed it (especially the Italian- talk about cooking under pressure!)

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almost 3 years ago Sagegreen

Nicely done! I just noticed this.

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almost 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks, Sg! I just noticed my sungolds are finally ripening so I will be making it again soon!

Dscn2212

almost 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Mascarpone AND fontina? Mmmmmmmmm!

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almost 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

The Mascarpone makes it rich and creamy & the fontina adds a nice flavor punch.

Dscn2212

almost 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Oh, i can imagine. Love the idea of the mascarpone.

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almost 3 years ago lapadia

Comfort food at its best!!!

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almost 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

I totally agree!

New_years_kitchen_hlc_only

almost 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Amazing. That's all I can say. Oh, and, yummmmm! ;o)

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almost 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks, AJ!

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almost 3 years ago gingerroot

I could live on this. Seriously. This looks and sounds amazing. Love that you left some flavor bombs whole, since the burst is one of the best parts about cherry tomatoes, IMO.

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almost 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks, gr! The whole cherry tomatoes are great in the sauce. They get warm and soft, but stay whole & still burst in the mouth.

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almost 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Yes it is I love cooking eggplant in tomato sauce and eating with polenta its so delicious.

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almost 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

OH LOVE THIS!!! Love polenta, tomato sauce. YUM.

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almost 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks, sdebrango! Polenta with tomato sauce is total comfort food.