Oven Baked Polenta is a simple and delicious side dish perfect for any meal!
Have you tried polenta? This was a first for us and it most definitely will not be the last. I’ve had polenta on the list of foods I want to try for over a year now. I finally decided to make it along with the Twisted Chicken Piccata I posted yesterday. They went together perfectly.
What is polenta?
Polenta is a way of preparing ground cornmeal, often with milk and butter. It’s is soft and creamy when it is first cooked, but it hardens into a firmer dish as it cools. The hardened version of polenta is sliced and served like a loaf!
It is traditionally an Italian dish, although polenta is made all over the world today! With budget friendly and easy to find ingredients, baked polenta is a side dish you need to try. I guarantee you’ll be as impressed as I was.
Baked Polenta Recipe
While it’s often made on the stove top, I used the oven baked method for making this polenta. Seasoned with a simple blend of salt, pepper and marjoram, I was so impressed by how flavorful the finished side dish was!
How to Make Polenta in the Oven
This polenta recipe really couldn’t get any easier. All you do is combine cornmeal with water, salt and pepper in oven safe dish, cover and bake for 30 minutes. At the halfway point, give the polenta a stir.
After baking, add milk, butter and either dried or fresh marjoram and whisk quickly until the polenta becomes smooth and creamy. Serve immediately!
Note: I used freshly ground corn for the cornmeal in this recipe. The cornmeal you buy in a bag at the store will work beautifully as well!
Polenta in the Microwave
I learned by accident that you can also make polenta in the microwave! The first time I made this recipe, my very old oven caught fire and started sparking. Since the polenta was already partially cooked, I pulled it out of the oven and tried finishing cooking in the microwave.
I simply placed the glass dish in the microwave and continued cooking it that way, stirring every couple of minutes until it was done. I’m waiting for delivery of a new stove now and looking forward to lots of holiday baking with a shiny new oven!
What to Serve with Polenta
When it comes to side dishes, you’re hard pressed to find anything that goes so well with so many different main dishes. Like I mentioned before, we ate this with Twisted Chicken Piccata the first time.
If you’re stuck in a rice and potatoes rut, this baked polenta recipe is a great way to shake things up. It completely kid approved but flavorful enough to serve to any discerning adult. We really loved this recipe!
[Updated to add] Back when I posted this baked polenta, I was right to predict that we’d be enjoying a lot more often in the future. In the years since I first made polenta, it’s become a regular side dish on my dinner table.
Oven Baked Polenta
I can’t wait for you to try this easy cornmeal side dish made right in the oven or microwave!
- 3/4 cup cornmeal I used freshly ground corn, but store bought works as well
- 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/8-1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
- 3 cups water
- 1/4 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram or 1 teaspoon fresh
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a covered dish with a lid, whisk together the water, cornmeal, salt and pepper. Cover and bake for 30 minutes*, stirring halfway through.
- Remove from the oven and add the milk, butter and marjoram. Whisk quickly until the polenta is smooth and creamy. Serve immediately. Enjoy!
- *Side note: Apparently, a microwave will work in a pinch as well. My oven caught fire, the actual electric coil at the base of the oven broke off and starting sparking and smoking, in the middle of the baking process. I turned off the oven and when the sparks stopped, I simply placed the glass dish in the microwave and continued cooking it that way, stirring every couple of minutes until it was done. I'm waiting for delivery of a new stove now and looking forward to lots of holiday baking with a shiny new oven!