Vegan Polenta Bites with Salsa

>> Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I came up with these vegan gluten-free appetizers when I realized my gluten-sensitive friend and a vegetarian friend would not have anything to eat at a chocolate party I was planning. We pressed warm polenta into a mini muffin pan and pressed a dent into the top. Before we baked them, we spooned a little salsa into those hollows.

Joe and I are longtime polenta lovers, so these cute little bites with our homemade poblano-thyme salsa were just our thing. People raved about these appetizers and even chose them over equally yummy fat-, meat-, and flour-laden treats.

This is another one of those recipes we love because they are quick, and can be made up to a week in advance, chilled, then cooked right before the party. There's always so much to do before a party that it's a blessing to have some of it out of the way ahead of time. If you want an even easier route to a gluten free polenta bite, buy the prepared polenta in a tube or plastic package, from the refrigerated section of the grocery store.


3 1/4 cups vegetable broth or water
2 tsp chili powder
1 cup coarse cornmeal (Bob's Red Mill is great!)
1 cup poblano-thyme salsa, or commercially prepared salsa
1/2 cup crumbled farmer's cheese or queso fresco (if making a non-vegan version)


In a large saucepan, bring the vegetable broth or water to a boil with the chili powder. Stirring constantly, add the polenta. Reduce the heat and simmer 45 minutes, stirring frequently, until the polenta is creamy and very thick. It should coat a wooden spoon thickly when it is done.

Spoon the polenta into oiled mini muffin tins. Make sure you press the polenta firmly into the pan so that the bites don't crumble when you remove them. You know how cornmeal gets. Press your thumb or a spoon into the center of each muffin bite to make a shallow dent.

Chill at least an hour, or up to 1 week. Set 1 tsp of salsa into the dent of each bite. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until the polenta is crispy and browned around the edges. Allow to cool slightly before serving. Sprinkle with cheese, if desired.

Makes 24 appetizers.


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