Yotam Ottolenghi's Sweet Corn Polenta with Eggplant Sauce

By • July 31, 2012 80 Comments

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Author Notes: In its entirety, this is a recipe that works and is really, really good. But it's also full of ideas you can parcel out as you see fit -- namely: polenta doesn't have to be born out of dry goods. Fresh corn, cooked quickly, breaks down to a sweet soup in the food processor. Adapted slightly from Ottolenghi's Plenty (Chronicle Books, 2011).

Genius Recipes

Serves 4

Eggplant Sauce

  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 medium eggplant, cut into 3/4-inch dice
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup chopped peeled tomatoes (fresh or canned)
  • 6 1/2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chopped oregano
  1. Heat up the oil in a large saucepan and fry the eggplant on medium heat for about 15 minutes, or until nicely brown. Drain off as much oil as you can and discard it -- the safest way to do this is to scoop out the eggplant to a plate using a slotted spoon, then pour off the oil into a bowl before added the eggplant back in. You can save the oil to fry lamb chops or eggs in tomorrow.
  2. Add the tomato paste to the pan and stir with the eggplant. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the wine and cook for 1 minute. Add the chopped tomatoes, water, salt, sugar and oregano and cook for a further 5 minutes to get a deep-flavored sauce. Set aside; warm it up when needed.


  • 6 ears of corn
  • 2 1/4 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons butter, diced
  • 7 ounces feta, crumbled
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Black pepper
  1. Remove the leaves and "silk" from each ear of corn, then chop off the pointed top and stalk. Use a sharp knife to shave off the kernels -- either stand each ear upright on its base and shave downward, or lay each ear on its side on a cutting board to slice off the kernels. You want to have 1 1/4 pounds kernels.
  2. Place the kernels in a medium saucepan and barely cover them with the water. Cook for 12 minutes on a low simmer. Use a slotted spoon to lift the kernels from the water and into a food processor; reserve the cooking liquid.
  3. Process them for quite a few minutes, to break as much of the kernel case as possible. Add some of the cooking liquid if the mixture becomes too dry to process.
  4. Now return the corn paste to the pan with the cooking liquid and cook, while stirring, on low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the mixture thickens to mashed potato consistency. (Be aware that if you have a lot of liquid left in the pan, it can take a while to cook down the polenta, and it will sputter. Consider holding back some or all of the liquid. Alternately, if you like the consistency after processing, you can skip to step 5.)
  5. Fold in the butter, the feta, salt and some pepper and optionally cook for a further 2 minutes. Taste and add more salt if needed.

More Great Recipes: Corn|Polenta|Eggplant|Tomatoes|Entrees

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Comments (80) Questions (4)


8 days ago Cypripedium

I made this dish and it is wonderful! However, I handled the sweet corn quite differently by cutting it off the cob, making sure to scraping the cob to get all of the juicy "milk." All of this went into a microwave-safe glass bowl and, after adding just a couple of tablespoons of water, I covered it and cooked it on high in the microwave for about 5 minutes. I then broke down the cooked corn in the food processor as directed and put it on the stove to reduce. I will continue to prepare it this way in the future. It simplifies the process, captures all of the corn's goodness, and eliminates the need to cook away so much excess water.


21 days ago George Strong

Don't waste the corn cobs, they make excellent broth, just put them in a sauce pan, breaking them if necessary, barely cover with water, and simmer for 30 minutes or more. You can add excess liquid from the fresh corn polenta you're making. Corn cob broth makes an excellent base for soups of all kinds. It's sweet, so it lends itself to tart and savory additions, such as sherry or balsamic vinegar, tamarind paste, etc. The broth can be greatly reduced, if you wish. To store it, I bring it to a boil, pour into a quart canning jar, seal, let cool, and store refrigerated for up to a month.


about 1 month ago Alyssa

Just made this tonight, and I've decided I could eat this polenta everyday for every meal forever. Seriously divine. I used fresh summer sweet corn, and only used half the feta called for (it was all I had). Still rich and fabulous. Made the eggplant sauce as is, and it's also delicious. I used fresh cherry tomatoes, though I think I might actually try canned San Marzano tomatoes next time to add a little more zing to the flavor. Awesome recipe, worth the effort.


about 1 month ago Chicgail

I'm freezing the extra sweet corn water. It's too good to throw away. I figure it'll be fabulous in a chowder.


2 months ago Lusty Dish

Does anyone know if the oregano is fresh or dried?? Thinking fresh.. Suggestions are welcome.


2 months ago cookbookchick

As it's calling for chopped oregano, use fresh. You probably know that dried oregano versus fresh oregano are completely different tastes. Also, a tablespoon of dried oregano in this recipe would be way too much. If you have only dried, start with maybe a teaspoon at most and taste the mixture before you add more.


about 1 month ago 808GRINDS

I used (freeze) dried oregano as it was what I had on hand. Cookbookchick is right ... use less than what you would with fresh herbs. I also suggest you pour the dried herbs in the palm of your hands and rub together to release the oils!


10 days ago cookbookchick



3 months ago Tbird

AMAZING. The Feta made this so creamy. In fact, my kids thought the polenta had the consistency - and even flavor - of scrambled eggs (in a good way!) I used someone's suggestion of using an immersion hand blender, rather than a food processor. This left us with a creamy base, and great kernels of fresh corn. It was like a creamed corn, but so much better! I think next time, I might use red wine (or balsamic) to add a bit more "kick" to the eggplant, but it was amazing as is. Thanks for the recipe!


10 months ago Marissa

Is it possible to use a sweet wine instead of a dry wine? I don't like dry wine and I want to buy a wine I'll drink after I use it. Maybe if I omit the sugar or add some sort of vinegar to balance the sweetness?


10 months ago sevenfaces

This dish as a whole is gorgeous but the fresh sweet corn polenta with feta and butter stirred through is my new favourite thing of all time. SO GOOD. I poured the corn broth out of the pot and used an immersion blender for a slightly less fiddly work flow, and only poured about a quarter back in. Thinking of what to do with the rest now!


12 months ago Christina Scannuccio

HO-LY COW this was awesome. I had a pound of Japanese eggplant from the CSA, so I upped to about two cups of tomatoes and about a quarter-cup water. If the sauce gets a little dry while it sits, heat it up with another splash of wine. Also, if the feta comes in an 8-oz package, that extra little ounce in the polenta won't hurt anyone ;)


12 months ago Allison

This recipe was amazing! I didn't measure the water when making the polenta. I just filled the pot to just cover the corn kernels. I used sweet summer corn from the farmers market and it was delicious! I also roasted the eggplant


12 months ago honeyydukes

Made this for lunch today ~ the polenta recipe is a gem, and worth the time and effort.


12 months ago sl(i)m

Has anyone tried freezing the sauce as a way of preserving a too-bountiful crop of eggplants?


12 months ago Susan W

Susan W is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I froze two batches of Francis Lams ratatouille. It worked beautifully, so I am sure this sauce would freeze as well.


about 1 month ago Meleyna Nomura

Swoon, summer just isn't summer without that ratatouille.


about 1 month ago Susan W

Susan W is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Omg..I am so happy to hear from a FL Ratatouille fan. I'm gearing up to fill my freezer with it.


about 1 year ago lilroseglow

I really wanted to try the fresh polenta, but weeknight schedule did not permit. BUT the eggplant sauce over dried polenta was fantastic and a wonderful weeknight alternative. My whole family enjoyed it, and were already asking me to make it again perhaps adding additional ingredients (suggestions ranged from onion to mushrooms to Italian sausage.) So this will become a regular for me, and eventually I will get around to incorporating the fresh polenta. Can't wait to try it that way!

Thanks for the recipe.


about 1 year ago MarieH

I love this recipe but so much oil. Has anyone tried roasting the eggplant instead of frying?


about 1 year ago Supriya

Yes! I actually made it tonight by roasting the eggplant. I had made it this way last year (see comments below) with extra veggies. Today, I just roasted the eggplant with some olive oil at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.


about 1 year ago Renee B

I cut the oil way back without hurting the results. I think I used only 1/4 cup. This is after making it two other times reducing oil a little bit more each time. Roasting the eggplant is a great idea too. I'll probably give that a try next time.


about 1 year ago ladykave

I just made the polenta to serve with Alon Shya's whole roasted cauliflower recipe (a favorite from Food52), and man is it delicious!!! I didn't need to use the reserved liquid, the puree was plenty loose when I returned it to the pan. I cooked it down a bit, and instead of feta and butter (we mostly cook vegan food at home), I added some white miso and olive oil. Insanely good.


about 1 year ago SCalabretta

This was absolutely delicious and, using dried polenta, very fast. I will definitely be using the eggplant sauce for pasta in the future. Wonderful recipe.


about 1 year ago Erica

Is this possible with frozen corn kernels?


about 1 year ago Renee B

Yes. I've made it every time with Trader Joe's Sweet Organic frozen corn. Works beautifully. I use 1 1/4 bag. I love it and the meal was a huge hit when I hosted book club.


about 1 year ago Yazoolulu

I made this tonight and it was incredible. The only substitution I made was using red and white balsamic vinegar in place of the wine. The whole family loved it and there isn't a bit leftover.


about 1 year ago Marsha Gainey

I made the sauce recently but not the polenta. I topped traditional polenta with the sauce, which was delish! And pretty fast to make. The only thing I changed was that the finished sauce was very undersalted; I ended up adding 1/2 to 3/4 t. salt to my sauce. BTW, I made my polenta in my slow cooker using America's Test Kitchen's recipe from volume 1 of its two slow cooker cook books, and it, too, was delish with the added plus of no stirring (and stirring . . . and stirring . . .).


over 1 year ago Gilda Barco-Pritchard

For tomorrow i will be serving the eggplant recipe on the cover of his book Plenty, and this one will be on my next week menus!! Can't wait, YUMMY!!