Delicious Ideas for Leftover Polenta


One of our supermarket bargains this week was a few pieces of oxtail which I braised in red wine and ate with a dish of Polenta of which, being as I am the only person in this house weird enough to eat Polenta, I had a fair bit leftover. No worries – there are so many great things to do with the scraps.


How to Make Polenta

Before we start, for how to make polenta see here, you will have to scan down a bit past all the pretty pictures of Caribbean Full Moon Party! In the same post is how to make Mozzarella Stuffed Polenta Cakes.

Polenta Pizza Base

Whilst still warm spread the polenta out thinly to use as an alternative pizza base.  Top and bake as usual.

Polenta Tart Case

Set aside leftover polenta till cool enough to handle and then with lightly greased hands press the polenta into a loose bottomed tart case pressing against the sides and into corners.  Either bake empty (no need to weight and bake blind as it won’t puff up) then cool and fill or add a chosen filling, brush the edge of the tart case with olive oil and bake in a hot oven till the crust is golden and the filling cooked.   Here’s one made earlier with wine glazed shallot filling.


For the following ways to use up leftover polenta firstly, using a wet spatula, spread the unused polenta in an oiled to about15 mm thick.  Leave till cold and if poss leave a bit longer to allow it to dry out a bit.

Polenta Chips, Polenta Croutons and Pretty Shapes

Cut cold polenta into shapes or chips or croutons and coat in flour or dry cornmeal to help form a crispy crust.  Deep fry a few pieces at a time - do not overcrowd the pan, the oil needs to stay good and hot - and when crisp and golden, lift out carefully and drain on kitchen roll whilst frying the rest. 

Crostini, Bruschetta and General Nibbly Things

As above but instead of deep frying brush with olive oil and season and grill OR season and coat in a little dry cornmeal and  shallow fry till crisp and golden.  Sprinkle with sea salt for a crunchy snack or add a delicious topping  and flash under the grill or into a hot oven to heat through. 

Cutting out pretty shapes results in a few odd pieces and trimmings so here’s what to do with them …

Polenta Hash

~   Heat a little olive oil in a shallow pan.
~   Add the polenta and fry till hot with crispy areas.
~   Add anything you like – leftover veg, meat, fish, herbs, spices etc.
~   Continue cooking gently a few minutes more till heating through, crisp and golden.


Polenta Gratin

This is one of my favourite ways to use up polenta trimmings; toss the bits of pieces of polenta with soft buttery cooked leeks and pile into a buttered dish.  Crumble over some blue cheese, sprinkle with breadcrumbs and bake till hot and bubbling.  A glass or red wine is de rigueur here.

Polenta Topping

Scatter bits and pieces of polenta on top of a savoury stew, hotpot or casserole, cover the dish with foil and bake till hot through.  Uncover and sprinkle with breadcrumbs and cheese if suitable, return to the oven till crisp and bubbling.  For a posh do use slices of polenta, cut into pretty pieces and laid slightly overlapping. 

Leftovers Cookbook ...

I have so many ideas for leftovers that I wrote Creative Ways to Use Up Leftovers which has ideas, recipes, handy hints, cook's treats, storage guidance and food pairing suggestions  for over 450 possible leftovers and scraps.

Oh and I'd just like you to have a look at this this delicious recipe for Orange and Ginger Polenta Cake (you'll have to scroll down a way) which, whilst it doesn't use leftover polenta, is well worth knowing about!


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