What To Do With Leftover Polenta

A couple of days ago I made Polenta with Mushrooms and doubled the polenta portion of the recipe. I wanted to have plenty of leftovers. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what to do with leftover polenta. If you do nothing, it turns into a cold congealed blob which most likely ends up in the trash. However, if you plan a little ahead and spread the polenta out evenly in a baking dish (see below), there are endless ways to serve it.

As an Appetizer, Side Dish or Main Course:  Use leftovers from last night’s Polenta with Mushrooms to create Polenta Cake with Sautéed Mushrooms.IMG_9674For Breakfast or Brunch:  Polenta Cake with Egg & Asparagus. Pan sear polenta and top with an egg over-easy and sautéed asparagus.IMG_9703

As an Hors d’Oeuvre:  Goat Cheese Polenta Bites with Fig Jam & Thyme. Add a dollop of fig jam onto small rounds of polenta and garnish with fresh thyme leaves.


As a Snack:  Polenta Fries with Spicy Garlic Mayo and Marinara Dipping Sauces. Cut polenta into rectangles and pan sear each side. (For the Spicy Garlic Mayo, combine: 1/3 cup mayonnaise, 1/2 to 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper and 2 teaspoons yellow mustard. For the Marinara, heat up Rao’s Marinara Sauce or your favorite jarred sauce.)


Feel free to improvise. Think of the polenta as a base (like a cracker, bruschetta or crostini) for your favorite toppings.

To Prepare Leftover Polenta:

(Note:  Polenta with Mushrooms does not include cheese in the polenta. When I doubled the polenta portion of the recipe, I added 5.5 ounces of goat cheese to the half I set aside. You could instead use 1/2 cup parmesan cheese or leave the cheese out altogether.)

Transfer warm polenta to a baking dish and spread it out to form an even ¾” to 1″ layer. (I used a 9″x13″ Pyrex dish but the size of the dish depends on how much leftover polenta you have.) Cover with plastic wrap so that it directly touches the surface of the polenta. Allow to cool in the refrigerator or on the countertop.IMG_9557

Once the polenta has cooled, cut it into desired shapes by using a sharp knife or pastry rounds (or cookie cutters).IMG_9626IMG_9685

In a non-stick pan over medium-high heat, add 1 to 2 teaspoons olive or canola oil. Add polenta and heat until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.IMG_9673IMG_9687

Transfer to a plate and add your favorite toppings. Enjoy!

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