This diverse ingredient should be in your pantry.

Hayley Sugg
November 10, 2017

You've likely walked by it in the grocery store and never given it a second glance, but tubed polenta can be a key ingredient to creating quick and tasty weeknight dinners. Already pre-cooked and ready to add flavor and heft to your favorite dishes, tubed polenta deserves to become part of your regular meal rotation.

Depending on the grocery store, tubed polenta can be found in the refrigerated produce section (near the tofu) or in the pasta/Italian area. Most varieties are sold plain (with only yellow cornmeal, water, and salt as ingredients) but flavored polentas, like sun-dried tomato or Italian herb, are also often available.

Tubed polenta has a firm-yet-creamy texture, with a light corn flavor that makes it a great neutral-tasting ingredient. Since it's already cooked, you can simply slice the polenta and prep it however you want, but if you need a little recipe inspiration we've listed below our six favorite ways to use tubed polenta. 

Photo: Jennifer Causey

Grilling

Since tubed polenta readily soaks up flavor, grilling is perfect for adding a smoky note to your recipes. Thickly sliced pieces can be put straight on the grill alongside other ingredients, or cut it into large cubes and added to kebabs, like in our Shrimp 'n' Grits Skewers

Canapés 

Tubed polenta has a sturdy texture which makes it a great base for canapés. Next time you have company and need easy-to-make appetizers, simply bake slices of polenta before adding your toppings of choice. Some of our favorite options include fresh mozzarella with cherry tomatoes and basil or sautéed mushrooms with herbs and Parmesan.

Caitlin Bensel

Layering

Easily bulk up your next casserole or skillet dinner with the addition of tubed polenta. Thinly sliced polenta can make wonderful layers for many recipes, adding a creamy texture and mild taste to any dish. Use it to create an easy weeknight dinner like our Cheesy Polenta Skillet, keep it on hand to replace noodles for a pasta-free lasagna, or put it in a Tex-Mex casserole to add delicious corn flavor. 

Croutons

Switch up your salad topping game with a little tubed polenta. If you want to add some heft to your meal without wildly changing the flavor, plus keep the dish gluten-free, then polenta croutons are the way to go. Cut polenta into large cubes and sear them in a skillet over high heat. Feel free to sprinkle your croutons with seasonings (we like oregano and red pepper flakes) just before serving. 

Photo: Randy Mayor

Smothering

Just like rice or pasta, which are both often used as vehicles for delivering flavorful sauces or toppings, polenta's mild taste and versatile texture makes for a delicious base. Cooked polenta, whether baked or pan-fried, can be served as a meal when smothered in a saucy topping like in our Sausage and Kale Sauté with Polenta. We suggest trying it with a dollop of chili, meaty Bolognese, or curry on top. 

Fries

If you're not looking to use tubed polenta for a full meal, a quick trip to the oven can create amazing polenta fries. Cut the polenta into long wedges or strips, coat each with a little bit of olive oil, and then toss these 'fries' into a mixture of breadcrumbs and spices. Bake the fries in a pre-heated 450°F oven for 40 minutes, flipping in the middle. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce on the side.