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Photo: Thayer Allyson Gowdy; Styling: Robyn Valarik Photo by: Photo: Thayer Allyson Gowdy; Styling: Robyn Valarik

Polenta Torta

Fontina is fine here, but if you can splurge on truffled cheese, you won't regret it.

Sunset DECEMBER 2010

  • Yield: Serves 8 to 10 (about 30 pieces)
  • Total:4 Hours


  • About 1 1/2 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 cups coarse polenta (not instant)
  • About 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 1/2 large yellow onions, minced (2 1/2 cups)
  • 3/4 pound truffled cheese, such as Sottocenere al Tartufo or Caciotta al Tartufo, or Italian-style fontina, coarsely grated
  • 1/3 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese (from a wedge)


1. Bring 7 1/2 cups water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Add 1 1/2 tbsp. salt and the bay leaves. Whisking constantly, gradually add polenta. Reduce heat to medium and cook, whisking often, until mixture begins to thicken, then adjust heat to maintain a gentle bubble. Cook, stirring occasionally with a sturdy rubber spatula and scraping pot, until polenta is thick and creamy and grains are softened, 30 to 45 minutes. If it becomes too stiff to stir easily, add a little boiling water.

2. Melt 3 tbsp. butter in a medium nonstick frying pan over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook, stirring often, until soft and pale golden, about 20 minutes.

3. Preheat oven to 375°. Remove bay leaves from polenta. Stir in onions and season with salt to taste.

4. Butter a 13- by 9- by 2-in. baking dish generously. Pour one-third of polenta into dish, spreading evenly. Top with half of truffled cheese. Add another one-third of polenta, then remaining truffled cheese. Dollop remaining polenta on top and spread evenly. Sprinkle with parmesan and dot with remaining 1 tbsp. butter.

5. Bake torta until medium brown, bubbling on the edges, and hot to the touch, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool, then chill until cold, at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.

6. Cut torta into small rectangles (about 1 1/2 by 2 in.) and transfer to a baking sheet. Broil 4 inches from heat until browned and crisp, about 5 minutes.

Make ahead: Through step 5. Cover with plastic wrap and chill several hours or overnight.

Note: Nutritional analysis is per piece.

Nutritional Information

Amount per serving
  • Calories: 113
  • Calories from fat: 50%
  • Protein: 4.8g
  • Fat: 6.2g
  • Saturated fat: 3.6g
  • Carbohydrate: 9.7g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Sodium: 492mg
  • Cholesterol: 19mg

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Polenta Torta recipe