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finished baked polenta recipe with tomatoes and basil on top

Baked Polenta with Burst Tomatoes

  • Author: Joy the Baker
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: about an hour
  • Yield: Serves 4
  • Category: dinner
  • Method: baking


A cozy weeknight dinner that’s easily adaptable. Add veggie or meat sausage. Sprinkle with fresh fresh basil and enjoy curled up on the couch.



For the Polenta:

  • Butter to grease pan
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup coarse ground cornmeal or polenta cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream (optional)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

For the Tomatoes:

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • 1 (15 ounce can) tomato puree
  • Splash of red wine (optional and if you want to open a bottle)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Fresh basil leaves


  1. Place racks in the upper third and middle of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Grease a 9×9-inch square baking pan generously with butter. Gently stir water, cornmeal, and salt directly in the greased pan. Carefully place the pan in the middle rack of the oven, hopefully without sloshing any water out of the pan. We’ll bake the polenta for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir in the butter, cream, and parmesan cheese. Bake another 15 minutes, or until the top is dry and doesn’t jiggle much.
  3. While the polenta bakes, we’ll bring together the tomatoes. In a medium skillet over medium heat add fresh tomatoes (whole is fine) and olive oil. Occasionally stir the tomatoes around the pan until they begin to burst over the next 15 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to stir and smash the tomatoes. After the tomatoes are tender and smashed, add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for another 2 minutes or so.
  4. Season with a generous pinch of salt. Add the tomato puree, a splash of wine (if you’d like), and oregano. Simmer gently until the polenta comes out of the oven. A few minutes before serving, stir in a few fresh basil leaves, torn.
  5. To serve, spoon polenta into shallow bowls. Spoon tomato sauce on top. Top with more parmesan cheese and more basil, if you’d like.

Keywords: easy weeknight dinner, polenta, tomatoes, dinner recipe,