Roman Rosemary Polenta Squares

March  4, 2018
3 Ratings
Photo by Jenny Huang
  • Prep time 8 hours 35 minutes
  • Cook time 45 minutes
  • Serves 4-6
Author Notes

This Roman rosemary polenta, baked and cut into squares, is wonderful on its own or with any accompaniment, but is particularly great a mound of orange and chili-flecked cavolo nero. First, the cheesy, herby polenta is cooled to set, then broiled or baked with more cheese on top. —Ed Smith | Rocket & Squash

What You'll Need
  • 800 milliliters (3 1/3 cup) milk
  • 3 sprigs rosemary
  • 150 grams (2/3 cup) polenta
  • 70 grams (1/2 cup) butter, divided
  • 80 grams (3/4 cup) grated Parmesan, divided
  • Olive oil, for greasing
  • Sea salt
  1. Put the milk and 2 of the rosemary sprigs in a large saucepan, bring to a rapid simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 25 minutes, then discard the rosemary.
  2. Sprinkle the polenta into the pan in a slow, steady stream, stirring continuously. At first it will seem as though there’s far too much milk, but after 3–5 minutes the polenta will swell and thicken. Continue to stir vigorously, almost without interruption, for 10–15 minutes over a low heat. Once the grains are less visible and the polenta starts to become smooth, reduce the heat to very low and cook for 10 minutes more, beating it frequently. Add some extra water to loosen the mixture if necessary.
  3. Meanwhile, line an 8x8-inch baking tray with parchment, and grease the paper with 1 tablespoon oil. When the polenta is cooked, smooth and slick, add 40g (about 3 tablespoons) of the butter and 60g (1/2 cup) of the Parmesan and beat well, season with salt, then pour it into the lined tray. Use a palette knife or the back of a spoon to push and smooth the polenta into the corners to an even depth of around 1-inch. Leave to cool, then put in the fridge to set for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
  4. Once the polenta has cooled and set, turn it out onto a clean work surface and cut into 2-inch squares. Place these, smooth-side up, on a larger lightly oiled baking tray (or two), leaving a little space around them. Preheat the oven to 482° F (250° C).
  5. Strip the leaves from the remaining rosemary and chop them very finely. Melt the remaining butter and pour or brush this over the polenta squares. Sprinkle the rosemary over the top, then finish with the remaining Parmesan. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden. Allow to cool and firm up for 5 minutes before serving.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Twinsx2mom
  • Mary Ellen White
    Mary Ellen White
  • Brooke Sprague
    Brooke Sprague
Ed Smith is a food writer based in London. He's the author of On the Side; a sourcebook of inspiring side dishes (Bloomsbury 2017/18), and the food blog

3 Reviews

Mary E. June 3, 2022
The timing for cooking polenta is so far off as to be on the edge of criminal recipe mischief. Using Bob's Red MIll coarse corn meal, I expected the cooking in milk to be closer to 30 minutes-not 75!
Twinsx2mom October 9, 2018
This recipe is our new “comfort “ food. Before you bake the squares, you are supposed to brush them with the five additional tablespoons of butter. I have tried it adding the brush butter and skipping the brushed butter. I honestly don’t feel it needs it. The predominant flavor is from the rosemary and parmesan.
Brooke S. March 12, 2018
This recipe was so easy and delicious! I forgot to grease the parchment paper but it came off without a hitch. I rested the squares on a bed of Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce and served them with the suggested cavolo nero; bites with a little bit of all three were divine.