Grilled Polenta with Salsa Rosa

grilled polenta cakes

Beyond the flavor, the great thing about these hearty polenta cakes by chef Michael Chiarello is you can make a ton of them in advance to feed crowds and it won’t cost a fortune. In fact, you can start these delicious gluten-free appetizers the day before, let them chill overnight (or just the required two hours), and finish them just before serving.

Grilled Polenta with Salsa Rosa

We love party foods that wow without the work and these grilled polenta cakes are exactly that. Plus, you can top them with whatever you like–salsa, GF gravy, sauteed mushrooms, whatever! No grill? Panfry the grilled polenta cakes until golden and crispy in a little olive oil over medium-high heat.

Servings 12 triangles


  • 4-1/2 cups gluten-free chicken broth
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1-1/2 cups polenta (such as Anson Mills)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for greasing
  • 1 recipe Salsa Rosa (below)


  1. In a large saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a boil over medium-high heat. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Gradually whisk in the polenta to avoid clumping. Keep whisking, slowly and carefully, until the polenta comes to a simmer and begins to thicken. Lower the heat and cook as directed on the package, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Cook until a spoon inserted into the polenta stands straight up, about 10 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. Generously grease a 9 by 13-inch baking pan with olive oil. Using a rubber spatula, spread the polenta evenly in the baking pan, working it into the corners and smoothing the top. Cover the polenta with plastic wrap and let cool in the refrigerator for 2 hours or until firm. Cut the polenta into 12 triangles with a knife or cookie cutter.
  3. Preheat the grill on high heat. Once hot, brush the grill with olive oil and add the polenta pieces; don’t move them until grill marks form, about 2 minutes. Flip the polenta, grill on the other side for 2 minutes, transfer to a platter, and serve with the salsa.

Salsa Rosa

MAKES 2 CUPS An adaptation of Michael Chiarello’s mother’s recipe, this sauce freezes well and is a perky accompaniment to fish, omelets, pasta, or even hummus (mix it in!).


  • 6 large red bell peppers
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 serrano chiles
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • 1/2 cup tomato puree
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat the broiler. Broil the peppers about 4 inches from the heat, turning to blister all sides, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer the peppers to a paper bag and close tightly to steam and cool.
  2. In a small skillet, heat the olive oil over high heat until shimmering. Add the chiles, lower the heat to medium, and cook, turning occasionally, until the chiles are softened, lightly browned, and blistered on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and let the chiles cool in the oil. When cool enough to handle, remove and discard the stems and reserve the chiles in a bowl, leaving the oil in the skillet.
  3. Reheat the pan of oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until lightly browned, about 30 seconds. Add the oregano and sauté briefly to release its fragrance. Add the tomato puree and salt, bring to a simmer, and simmer for about 5 minutes to thicken slightly.
  4. Peel, stem, derib, and seed the peppers but do not rinse them. Put the peppers, serranos, and tomato puree in a blender and blend until smooth. Add the vinegar and the black pepper to taste and blend again. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 4 months.

Photography Aubrie Pick

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.