Yotam Ottolenghi's Sweet Corn Polenta with Eggplant Sauce

July 31, 2012

Test Kitchen-Approved

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
Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 50 min


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


  • 6 ears of corn
  • 2 1/4 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons butter, diced
  • 7 ounces feta, crumbled
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pinch Black pepper
In This Recipe


Eggplant Sauce

  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 adding 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.


  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.

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Reviews (96) Questions (5)

96 Reviews

Zenqi November 10, 2018
I've made this recipe several times (from the cookbook). I'm glad to see the comments about using less liquid because every time I've made it, it never comes out as "mashed potato consistency," regardless of how long I cook it (and I've cooked it VERY long). Aside from that, this recipe is so incredibly full of flavor and wonderful texture. I've literally told my husband repeatedly that if I had a choice for my last meal, this would be it. Now that I know about using less liquid, it'll be even easier. We even grow our own eggplant and tomatoes to make this dish. BTW, I tried it once with frozen corn and canned tomatoes and it was terrible.
Gabi August 27, 2018
I have Ottolenghi's book and the recipes are usually great. I did not like this dish at all. The polenta tasted so sweet, almost like dessert. The eggplang was very bitter, maybe salting and letting it strain before cooking it would have helped. I was so dissapointed that I would not even trying making the recipe again.
epicharis August 22, 2018
This was very good, and we didn't find the polenta too sweet at all. But the strength of this dish is really how fast it is. If you cut the corn and chop the tomatoes and eggplant the day prior, this entire dish comes together in almost no time. This is a weeknight star for sure.
Emily August 22, 2018
Other than the second degree burn (yeah, the polenta really does sputter) this was awesome. I held the cooking liquid aside and only ended up using a little bit of it. The corn would have been far too runny otherwise. Used an immersion blender as mentioned by others to save on dishes and it worked just fine.
S. R. July 11, 2018
Its ok. A smidge bland. I ended up mashing up about 4 cloves of garlic in mortar and pestle with some salt, olive oil and lemon juice and added it to the still hot tomato stew. I also added some chopped up green olives, just because I like the tomato and olive combo. I ended using about 3/4 of the feta and stirring into the polenta and the remainder I added as a garnish. I would definitely make the stew again, but the polenta...I think I would use it as a corn chowder instead.
Nashi February 2, 2018
A dissenting view -- despite loving most Ottolenghi recipes we didn't like this one at all! Found the sweet corn polenta to be too sweet, I think normal polenta would be better. And overall was just too much mush. If you can figure out a way to add more crunch or texture do that (maybe some nuts or seeds? or have it on the side with something else?).
Tracey W. November 2, 2017
Fantastic, thank you!
caninechef August 7, 2017
I also just made this for the first time. Eggplant was similar but a bit of an upgrade from a standard household recipe. The corn was wonderful though I used many of the tips below ( microwave, immersion blender). Perhaps the original version comes out silkier but I loved the results I got in no more time than it took to make the eggplant sauce. I have to wonder if the original version is geared toward the commercial kitchen and does not hold any real advantages for the household cook making 2-4 servings at a time. It seems other restaurant recipes that have also appeared here have the same issue, techniques that make sense in a commercial setting but are overkill for the home cook.
stephanieRD August 6, 2017
Made the recipe exactly as it was...EXCEPT what I thought was a container of frozen tomatoes leftover turned out to be some marinara (hah, freezer burn got the label), but it still turned out fantastic. My food at-home food critic raved about it. Served this alongside a pork tenderloin and it was a lovely Sunday dinner.
Cheryl February 22, 2017
Very good. I would double the eggplant part of the recipe next time and cook it a little longer. I made regular polenta.
nancy401 August 31, 2016
I use the corn right off the cob without cooking it before it is pureed. I then add water in at the cooking stage to get the consistency I want. Much faster and very flavourful. This method depends on having very fresh summer sweet corn, preferably from the field that day. Red wine in the sauce also works well. This is hands down my favourite summer corn recipe.
Joanna September 8, 2016
Thank you for the suggestion! I was thinking of doing something similar with the corn that I bought today from a local farm. I didn't want to over cook that delicious corn. Can't wait to try this for dinner tonight. <br /><br />
Muriel E. August 19, 2016
I cooked 1/2 cup of "true" polenta and added the whole corn kernels to that. I will definitely make it again.
Joan K. August 15, 2016
I made this with all the vegetables picked fresh today. Turned out fantastic. I didn’t think the eggplant was too oily at all. Ended up pouring off quite a bit of oil at the end of the sauteeing part. The only changes I would make are to the instructions: first note that a medium eggplant probably should weigh about a pound, and second, the number of ears of corn should be limited to however many will provide the 1.25 lbs of kernels required in the recipe body. My ears were so big, I ended up with over 9 oz of corn kernels left after I measured out the 1.25 lbs. specified using only four ears.
eveross April 10, 2016
if you roast the eggplant for this recipe, do you dice it before roasting? Someone said 20 minutes at 400 degrees....its fabulous as written, but roasting is healthier than frying and I want to make this again!
julita84 October 18, 2015
Although this dish was tasty, it was much richer and heavier than I had imagined. Also, I used frozen corn kernels, and the consistency of the polenta didn't reach the desired thickness: I added a bit of flour, which helped a lot.
LoveToCook October 3, 2015
This is absolutely delicious. I used only farm fresh ingredients from the market. Both husband and son enjoyed it. Yummy!
Cypripedium August 26, 2015
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.
Jaimie M. July 28, 2016
This was a wonderful suggestion, especially for summer when it's too hot to cook anyway. I followed your directions but needed to microwave about 10 minutes. I also used cream cheese, since I didn't have feta, and it was divine!
George S. August 13, 2015
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.
petalpusher August 31, 2016
I love this idea! Corn cob broth. Thank you.
Alyssa July 15, 2015
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.
Chicgail July 6, 2015
I'm freezing the extra sweet corn water. It's too good to throw away. I figure it'll be fabulous in a chowder.