Baked Polenta & Tomato Salad

Balsamic tomatoes and polenta salad (click through for recipe)This is the time of year that tomatoes should be enjoyed. They are just SO good in the summer months when they are freshly grown and delicious. I like tomatoes all year round, but this is the time of year when I truly enjoy eating them raw. 

Therefore, this salad is inspired by summer tomatoes.

Polenta and tomato saladThis is a variation on a traditional caprese salad. It also happens to be a dairy-free version. This salad is slightly lighter and a little more substantial. If you decide to plate it like I've done in these photos, you'll have a very impressive summer salad to serve up to roommates or dinner guests. But most importantly, this salad is amazingly delicious. And I can't really take any credit for that; it's all in the tomatoes.

Csa tomatoesBaked Polenta & Tomato Salad, serves 4 as a starter or light meal.

1 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon honey
2-3 bay leaves (I used dried)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2-4 ripe tomatoes (I used 3 that were medium/small in size)
18 ounces packaged polenta (one cylinder)
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt + pepper
a handful of fresh basil leaves

First we need to make a simple balsamic vinegar reduction. You can use this sauce on any salad, but I especially love it paired with tomatoes.

Balsamic vinegar reductionIn a small pot, combine the balsamic vinegar, honey, bay leaves, and red pepper flakes. Stir until the honey is dissolved into the vinegar. Over medium heat, allow the vinegar to reach a low boil. Cook for about 10 minutes until it has reduced by half. The vinegar will be much thicker, more like the consistency of honey. 

Allow to cool and then, with a fine mesh sieve, drain away the bay leaves and red pepper flakes. Set aside.

Baked polentaSlice the polenta into thin (1/4 inch or so) coins. Brush each side with olive oil; you don't need a lot. Sprinkle on a little salt and pepper. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a baking mat. Bake at 400°F for 15-20 minutes, until the edges begin to become crispy. 

How to assemble a fancy tomato saladAssemble the salads. You want to layer in thick slices of fresh tomatoes, baked polenta, and basil leaves. Top with as much balsamic vinegar reduction as you desire.

Polenta and tomato salad Make these. You're gonna love them, I promise. :) Enjoy! xo. Emma

Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Photos edited with Stella of the Signature Collection.

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