Autumn Dinner Party Menu: A Polenta Bar!

We're drawing our unofficial Polenta Day to a close with a look at our new favorite menu for a delicious and easy dinner party: a polenta bar!
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We already shared our favorite no-stir polenta (courtesy of Marcella Hazan) and a chunkier version of polenta too, with creamed corn included.

Using one of those polentas as a base, work up a few toppings. The last polenta bar we served had meatballs in tomato sauce, smoky collard greens, and creamy butternut squash. Let your guests serve themselves and pile on those toppings in any order they like.

If you want to get extra fancy you could offer an assortment of cheeses: mascarpone, Parmesan, Gruyere — and maybe even some nuts on the side.

It's an easy, delicious way to serve a lot of people at a dinner party, and it's also a wonderful way to serve vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores alike. Just provide a range of toppings.

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Also, many of these topping recipes can be made ahead — heck, they're even better made a day ahead. So for a dinner party all you'd have to worry about is prepping polenta.

(One note: the polenta in these photos looks a little chunky because this was photographed on its second day out of the pot! It was very creamy and smooth, but after a night in the fridge it will be a little chunky. You can blend it up with milk or cream but the texture will be slightly different than when it is freshly made.)

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Recipes for a Polenta Bar

Polenta
Marcella Hazan's No-Stir Polenta
Creamed Corn Polenta

Toppings
Totally Tender Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
Easy Braised Collard Greens with Bacon
Mélange of Squash Braised in Cream

Cap it off with chewy chocolate cookies for dessert, or brown butter ice cream with roasted fruit. Or maybe sticky toffee cakelets or — if you're not tired of cornmeal by now! — peach and cornmeal upside down cake or lavender polenta coffee cake.

We were inspired in all of this by Jamie Oliver's , which he tops with roasted game birds, cut up into pieces. Yum!

Have you ever done a polenta bar? Any favorite toppings for hot, creamy, luscious polenta?

(Images: Faith Durand)

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