Italian polenta with burst tomatoes and chard is the ultimate all vegetable comfort food and perfect for those chilly days. It pairs so well with an easy side salad and it is a really simple quick meal.
Italian polenta with burst tomatoes and chard is one of my family’s favorite dishes and it is the way we eat our polenta. This cheesy polenta recipe is full of flavor from goat cheese, parmesan and chicken stock (you can also use vegetable stock) and it is served creamy opposed to baked in the oven.
If you have never made polenta before, I am here to tell you that making it is so easy. You will need instant polenta which is found in the grocery stores. Sometimes it will be in the Italian/International food section but it is usually available.
The steps to making this polenta recipe are very easy as are the ingredients:
The first thing you will want to do is to prepare your vegetables and cook them according to the recipe. When you cook your Swiss chard, you want to cook it just until it softens but not too long that it starts to release a ton of its liquids.
Once you have done this you can take it out of the pan and put it on a plate to make room for cooking your tomatoes.
The tomatoes you cook until they just begin to burst. It is verry similar to how I cook my tomatoes for my fresh cherry tomato sauce. Once that happens you add your garlic and salt and gently saute them with the tomatoes for a few minutes before you remove them from the heat and proceed to making the polenta.
How to Cook Polenta:
Making polenta is very easy thanks to instant polenta sold in stores. It does require a good bit of muscle to mix it for a few minutes but it is well worth it for the final result.
To make your polenta you need to:
- Bring your liquids to a boil in a medium pot.
- Add your polenta and turn off the heat.
- Whisk vigorously for a few minutes until the polenta thickens.
- Then you will add your cheese and butter and mix well for another few minutes.
- Once the cheese and butter have melted into the polenta and the polenta starts to look creamy you are going to add your milk or cream and mix that in until it is incorporated.
- Serve immediately
Polenta can be served soft like in this recipe or left out to dry for a little bit and sliced into squares or triangles. The only difference between a soft polenta and a firm polenta that you can cut is going to be time.
The longer you leave polenta out to cool, the firmer it becomes. This is how you would make. polenta cake. That is why you want to serve this dish immediately so it remains a creamy polenta. Drizzling some of the garlic olive oil sauce that is in the vegetable part of this recipe helps as well.
Is Polenta Hard to Make:
This cheesy polenta is a very fast dish to prepare and very easy to make. You can make it in 30 minutes which makes it a great meal for the weeknights. It also makes a wonderful special occasion dish to make and it looks festive with all of its colors at the holidays.
This dish is also very adaptable to use what you have on hand in your house for the recipe. If you do not have goat cheese for the polenta, add another cheese like Pecorino Romano or ricotta. You can even just add extra Parmesan.
You can also substitute the chicken stock in the recipe for vegetable stock to keep it vegetarian. Just make sure your polenta has a few items going into it for flavor and you will be set up for success in having a great tasting polenta.
Other Ideas for How to Make Polenta:
If you want another way to enjoy polenta, Italians will often top their polenta with a delicious meat sauce and cheese. You just make this cheesy polenta base and add it to a large baking dish. Top it with the meat sauce and then add some Parmesan cheese and bake it up until bubbly.
No matter how you choose to make polenta, it is such a great comforting dish that is so versatile and I hope you give it a try!
Polenta with Burst Tomatoes and Chard
- 9 ounces Instant Polenta
- 2 1/2 Cups Water
- 2 Cups unsalted chicken stock or vegetable stock
- 4 ounces goat cheese
- 1/4 Cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tsp of kosher salt
- 1/8 cup milk or cream
Swiss Chard and Burst Tomato Topping
- 2 bunches of Swiss Chard cleaned, bottom stems removed and cut into large pieces about 2 inch cuts
- 2 pints of cherry tomatoes cleaned and dried
- 4 cloves of garlic minced
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp kosher salt plus more to taste
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
Start with the tomato and chard topping
- In a large saute pan over medium heat, add your 1/4 cup of olive oil
- Add your red pepper flakes
- Now add your Swiss chard
- Cook your chard just until it begins to soften but not too long so that its juices are fully released.
- Once your Chard is cooked, remove it from the pan on to a plate and set aside.
- In the same sauce pan, add your tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes gently stirring them around.
- After 5 minutes, add your minced garlic and salt and cook for another few minutes.
- Now return your chard to the saute pan a gently mix it in to the tomatoes and garlic.
- Remove pan from the heat, place a lid over top and set aside
Making the polenta
- Bring your water and chicken stock to a boil
- Once the liquids come to a boil, add your polenta and salt and then turn off the heat
- Vigorously mix your polenta until it starts to thicken, about 3 minutes
- Now add your goat cheese, butter and Parmesan and mix well for a few more minutes
- Once your cheese and butter are melted into the polenta go ahead and add your milk or cream and mix that in
- Spoon the polenta into individual bowls, spreading it out evenly
- Now with a slotted spoon and scoop your tomatoes and chard mixture and place on top of your polenta.
- Do this with all your bowls
- Spoon a little of the broth that is in the pan from the tomatoes and chard over top of your polenta
- Serve immediately