Goat Cheese “Polenta” with Cherry Tomatoes

published Jun 25, 2020
Goat Cheese "Polenta" with Cherry Tomatoes

Polenta gets a big upgrade thanks to creamy goat cheese, oven-roasted tomatoes, and fresh basil, for a light and comforting summer dinner.

Serves4 to 6

Prep10 minutes

Cook25 minutes

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goat cheese polenta with cherry tomatoes
Credit: Matt Armendariz

About a year or two ago, I had an epiphany: I needed to make more polenta, especially when I was having people over. It’s so easy to make, and it takes on the flavor of whatever you fold in or sprinkle on top. So then and there I decided to add a recipe to my repertoire that highlights polenta along with three of my all-time favorite ingredients: goat cheese, cherry tomatoes, and basil vinaigrette. And when tomato season is over, I sub in caramelized mushrooms for the tomatoes to keep the party goin’ all year long.

A Twist on Traditional Polenta

While polenta is traditionally made using using cornmeal, this version changes this up a little bit. Instead, it starts with semolina flour, a coarse, pale yellow flour typically made from hard durum wheat. It’s regularly used for making pasta, bread, couscous, and also works well as a stand-in for cornmeal when making polenta. The result is a smooth, comforting bowl of “polenta” that picks up even more creaminess from tangy goat cheese, and cooks up in just minutes.

Goat Cheese "Polenta" with Cherry Tomatoes

Polenta gets a big upgrade thanks to creamy goat cheese, oven-roasted tomatoes, and fresh basil, for a light and comforting summer dinner.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 25 minutes

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info


For the basil vinaigrette (makes about 1 cup):

  • 1

    medium shallot, roughly chopped

  • 2 cups

    tightly packed fresh basil leaves (stems removed)

  • 1 clove


  • 1/2 teaspoon

    red pepper flakes

  • 1/2 cup

    olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons

    red wine vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • Freshly cracked black pepper

For the "polenta" and tomatoes:

  • 2 pints

    cherry tomatoes

  • 1/4 cup

    olive oil

  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

  • 3 cups

    whole milk, plus more as needed

  • 1 cup

    semolina flour

  • 4 tablespoons

    (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into chunks

  • 8 ounces

    fresh goat cheese

  • Fresh basil leaves


  1. Make the basil vinaigrette: In a high-powered blender, combine the shallot, basil, garlic, red pepper flakes, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and salt. Blend for 1 minute, or until very smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and store in the fridge for up to 3 days.

  2. Make the tomatoes and polenta: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Toss the tomatoes with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread into an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet and roast the tomatoes until just blistered and beginning to burst, about 25 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan over medium heat, bring the milk to a simmer. Slowly whisk in the semolina flour. Continue whisking until thickened, about 2 minutes. If too thick, continue to add milk until you reach desired consistency. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter until melted, then add half of the goat cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  4. Transfer the polenta to a serving bowl. Top with the blistered tomatoes, remaining goat cheese, and basil vinaigrette. Garnish with fresh basil.

Recipe Notes

Reprinted with permission from What’s Gaby Cooking: Eat What You Want: 125 Recipes for Real Life by Gaby Dalkin; Abrams Books, 2020.