Polenta with Sun-dried Tomato and Caper Tapenade

A simple, no-fuss and unique appetizer for your Easter or Passover dinner.

Polenta is a traditional Italian dish made from boiled cornmeal. It was a popular dish amongst Northern Italy’s poor, as it was cheap and combined well with whatever other food was available.

It’s made much like cream of wheat or grits, but as it cools, it firms so that it can be fried, baked or grilled. The taste of polenta on its own isn’t terribly exciting, but it absorbs the flavour of other foods quite well.

Polenta with Sun-dried Tomato and Caper Tapenade

This appetizer uses firm polenta topped with a pungent sun-dried tomato and caper tapenade, which combine to give a rich and filling dish.


  • 16 oz of firm polenta (I used ready-made, much to the chagrin of my Italian family)
  • 8 sun-dried tomatoes (the kind that need to rehydrated taste best in my opinion)
  • 1/4 cup capers, drained
  • 1 clove of fresh garlic
  • 1/4 cup of fresh basil
  • 4 tbsp (plus extra) extra virgin olive oil
  • Vegetable oil, or another suitable frying oil
  • Black pepper


  1. Soak the dehydrated sun-dried tomatoes in warm water for about 30 minutes, or according to package directions. Sun-dried tomatoes in oil can be used if you cannot find the dehydrated ones.


  1. In a food processor, combine the rehydrated sun-dried tomatoes, capers, garlic, 4 tbsp of olive oil, basil and a few dashes of black pepper, and blend until just until it makes a thick paste. You can add more olive oil if it is not blending.


  1. Cut the polenta into circles or squares approximately 1/2 inch thick.Coat a large frying pan in frying oil and heat the oil over high heat.

  2. When the oil is hot (when a small splash of water dances), place the polenta pieces in the pan and fry for about 2 minutes on each side. As you cook the batches, you will need to add more oil to the pan. I’ve never had particularly good luck with getting the polenta to brown, but it sure tastes good!

    Putting it all together:

  1. All that’s left now is to spoon a dollop of the tapenade onto each polenta piece. They’re best served hot, but taste great even after they’ve cooled off.

  2. Garish the plate with left over basil.

Adapted from Eating Well

Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons by mccheek

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