Polenta Bowl with Sautéed Greens & Soused Tomatoes

This is one of those comforting meals I rely on on those days when dinner has become an afterthought.  Hearty and filling, polenta bowls are pretty easy to throw together but can also be completely customizable because of the blank canvas it presents.  My tried and true toppings to this polenta bowl are a simple, salt and peppered bunch of sautéed kale and quick-roasted cherry tomatoes with a bit of olive oil and Italian spices.  However, this time I was inspired by a few different sources and changed up the flavors a bit.  Molly Yeh (from one of my favorite blogs, mynameisyeh.com) used pilpelchuma for her potato salad here.  This intrigued because it’s a spice I had never used before but actually had on hand…weird, I know.  Pilpelchuma is found in Libyan cuisine and thankfully at Trader Joe’s as well.  It’s a spice blend consisting of chili, garlic, cayenne pepper, paprika, cumin and caraway that I was sure would be too spicy for me, because I am a wimp.  I was pleasantly surprised!  It gives the polenta a smoky flavor with a kick of spice at the finish.  Combining pilpelchuma polenta with Tara O’Brady’s soused tomatoes, make this polenta bowl completly packed with flavor.

Polenta Bowls 4

Polenta Bowls 2



(serves 2-4)

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 5 cups water (you can also use half vegetable broth for a bit more flavor)
  • salt + pepper to taste
  • 1-2 tsp Pipelchuma (I used 1 tsp, which was plenty spicy for me)
  • 1 bunch chard or kale, thick stems removed, chopped coarsely
  • Soused tomatoes (see recipe here)
    • Note: they take approximately 3-4 hours in the oven, so I recommend making them a day or two ahead.  Otherwise, you can simply roast cherry tomatoes in the oven, drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with salt, pepper and spices of your liking.

For the polenta:

In a medium-sized saucepan, bring water to a boil.  Add a pinch of salt.  Slowly pour polenta into the boiling water, continuously stirring with a wooden spoon or wire whisk for 2-3 minutes until mixture has thickened.

Turn heat to low, as polenta has a tendency to bubble up out of the saucepan, and cook for about 45 minutes- stirring about every 10 minutes or so.  If polenta becomes too thick, it can be thinned out with 1/4-1/2 cup water, vegetable broth or {almond} milk to keep polenta soft enough to stir.  Taste, making sure grains are plump and cooked, add pilpechuma and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to your liking.

**I also will add a bit of {unsweetened} almond milk/goat cheese/parmesan cheese to add flavor and a bit of creaminess.  If you wish to make it completely vegan, nutritional yeast is a fabulous option for a cheesy flavor.**

Leftover polenta can be reheated the next day, softened with a bit more liquid in a saucepan.  Otherwise you can place it in a baking sheet, cut into squares and grill, bake or fry leftover pieces.  So good.

For the chard:

Heat about 1 tablespoon olive oil in skillet or sauté pan over medium heat.  Once hot, toss in chopped chard and sauté for a minute or two, seasoning with salt and pepper to your liking.  Then, add a splash of water and cover, steaming the greens until wilted. When done, set aside.

Pour polenta into a serving bowl, then layer greens and place soused tomatoes on top.  Drizzle with oil from tomatoes for a little punch of flavor. Serve and enjoy.

Polenta Bowls

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