Creamy Pesto Polenta Recipe

Creamy Pesto Polenta Recipe Recipe

In this recipe I brightened a creamy polenta dish with homemade pesto. The pesto is made with parsley, pine nuts and roasted garlic. To ensure fluffy polenta, I incorporated whipped cream. The result is spectacular, almost dessert-like.

This delicious side dish pairs wonderfully with beef steaks. I’ve also served it with a red cabbage coleslaw so the colors pop on the plate. You know the saying: you eat with your eyes first!


Yields: 6 servings

¼ cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2½ cups vegetable broth
½ cup olive oil
1½ cups flat-leaf parsley leaves, tightly packed
1 lemon, zested and freshly squeezed
1½ cups yellow corn meal (polenta)
2 cups heavy cream, warm
1 cup milk, warm
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup Parmesan cheese, freshly crumbled
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly cracked


For the pesto: In a blender (or a mini-food prep if you have one), combine the parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, 1 clove garlic, pine nuts, ¼ cup Parmesan cheese and 6 tablespoons olive oil. Pulse until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. You might want to add about 2 tablespoons (or more) of vegetable broth for a smooth flow. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Making polenta: In a medium-sized saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons oil. Add the remaining garlic and cook until slightly golden. Add the vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then immediately whisk in the corn meal, stirring constantly for about 2-3 minutes. Add milk, then lower the heat. Let cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and checking the liquid, periodically adding ½ to 1 cup of warm cream (1½ cups total) as soon as the liquid has been absorbed. Add the rest of the Parmesan cheese.

Assembly time:

In a mixing bowl, whip ½ cup cream (at low speed) for 2-3 minutes until creamy and smooth. Add 2 tablespoons pesto. Increase to maximum speed and keep beating for another 2-3 minutes, until it forms soft peaks.

Add a few tablespoons of pesto at a time to the warm polenta. When the polenta reaches the desired color, add half the green whipped cream into the polenta. Mix well using a silicone spatula. Pour in the rest of the whipped cream; gently fold the whipped cream until well combined.

Adjust seasoning and garnish with whole parsley leaves.

Bon appétit!


The quantity of liquid may vary depending on the heat of the stove and how long you're cooking the polenta. At the end, I let it simmer uncovered, sometimes adding another ¼ cup of warm liquid at a time until I achieve the right consistency and level of doneness. The key is to pour the liquid incrementally and never let the dish dry out, or the polenta will burn at the bottom.

I used Quaker brand yellow corn meal.

You could vary the ingredients in the pesto using basil and other nuts such as almonds, walnuts or cashews.

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on October 4, 2012.


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