Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Appetizer Idea: Sun-dried Tomato Polenta Squares with Herbed Goat Cheese

At the request of a few friends I'd like to share a pretty simple appetizer recipe that is sure to impress your guests. Since I recently served up this menu item to catering client I guess I will also use this post to introduce you to my new catering company Bon Vivant. Along with myself the owners of Bon Vivant consists of Jordan Toro, a very talented and classically trained French chef, and Lauren Toro the business mastermind (not to mention my best friend for as far back as I can remember). Check out our first written "review" which actually comes from the party hostess who served our polenta appetizer. We are so new we don't have a website or sample menus complete yet so I will update you when we are more official. Until then you can reach us at bonvivantevents@gmail.com with any questions. And now for the recipe...

Sun-dried Tomato Polenta Squares with Herbed Goat Cheese
Serves about 8; about 3 pieces per person


2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 of a small white onion finely minced
2 - 2 1/4 c. chicken stock (usually about 1 of those paper cartons)
3/4 polenta (corn meal)
1/4 c. oil packed sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp. minced fresh sage
1 tsp. minced fresh thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
2 - 3 oz. goat cheese at room temperature


In a heavy skillet, saute onion in olive oil on medium heat until golden brown. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium and gradually add polenta in a slow consistent stream, whisking constantly. Stirring constantly, cook polenta on medium heat for 10 - 15 minutes until it thickens and comes away from the sides of the pan. This is the hard part, polenta gets really thick and you have to keep stirring for the entire 10 - 15 minutes. Consider it a bicep workout.

Remove polenta from heat and stir in 1/2 tsp. sage, 1/2 tsp. thyme, and the chopped sun-dried tomatoes. Salt and pepper the polenta mixture to taste. Pour mixture into a lightly greased 8"x8" pan and allow to cool fully. You can also make this the day before and refrigerate, just make sure to bring to room temperature before serving.

Combine the rest of the herbs with the goat cheese and set aside. Cut polenta into 1" squares. Top each square with the herbed goat cheese. I use a pastry bag with a star tip but can also spoon a small amount on top of each square. Sprinkle with chopped herbs for flourish, serve and enjoy.

Possible Substitutions:

If you're not crazy about goat cheese (I'm actually not a big fan) you can actually top the polenta squares with Boursin, Allouette, or Rondele. These soft cheeses all come already mixed with herbs so this would also save you a step.
For the vegetarians, you can easily substitute the chicken stock with vegetable stock.

Other Quick Tips:

I made this for a party of 25 so that required tripling the recipe.
You can really go crazy with what you top these tasty little squares with. Try caramelized onions, a mushroom ragout, etc.

Update: The Clever Pup made a great point, polenta bubbles like a science project.  Watch out for splatters so you don't get burned.

This recipe is adapted from one found in this book: 50 Great Appetizers, by Pamela Johns


  1. I can personally attest to the deliciousness of this recipe. Even my one year-old is a fan.

    Love the name of the company. You should leave business cards at your catering gigs for people at the party who love the food. (I say this because someone asked at my party.)

  2. I am sooooo proud of you guys!!!

  3. Michelle,

    Very cool new endeavor and I will definitely try this recipe and pass it on to my mom, the resident chef of the family (and bigger party host). can't wait to hear more about bon vivant.

    oh, and you made me hungry.

    smile, jana

  4. Ah, I can taste it now.

    Watch out for that splattering polenta.

  5. just found your blog. these look totally fabulous. cheers!

  6. Oh, what a great idea. Those looks heavenly! I can't wait to try them out. I may just have to make them for myself:)