Beet Polenta Appetizer Recipe

Beet Polenta Appetizer Recipe Recipe

I love the flavor combination of beets and sage; I've used the same marriage of flavors in soups, pasta dishes and vinaigrettes on multiple occasions. This time, I made a variation of a polenta appetizer and flavored it with this particular pairing. 

The beets gave a regal color to the bite-size portions and I repeated the sage flavor in the cream topping. The corn nugget garnish was my "cherry on top" and was a reminder of the cornmeal used for the polenta. 

You’ve probably noticed over the years that our family hosts a large number of dinner parties. My favorite part is creating new appetizers because it really levels the playing field for me. First I come up with a flavor combination that I know works incredibly well as my basis, then turn it into a miniature, aesthetically pleasing, unique piece of art. You know the saying: you eat with your eyes first! 


Yields: 6 servings

1 pound polenta, (about 2-1/2 to 3 cups)
7 cups water, as needed (depending on how firm your want the consistency of the polenta)
2 small red beets, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 fresh sage leaf, torn in half
1¼ cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese powder
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black peppercorns, freshly ground
2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup powdered sugar
1 (4.5-ounce) package corn nuggets (see tips)


Preparing the beets: Remove any dirt and scrub the beets under tap water. Trim off a little piece from the ends of the roots. Peel the beets and boil them for 5 minutes. Drain as much liquid as possible and pat dry. Using a mandoline slicer on a medium setting, cut into matchstick-like pieces.

Cooking the beets: 

In a large non-stick pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil, add half the sage leaf. Add the beets, sugar, and about ¼ cup of water. Cook for 8-10 minutes until bright red and fork-tender. Adjust seasoning. Season with salt. Cover and let stand until the polenta is cooked. Discard the sage.

For the polenta:
In a large sauce pan, bring the water to a full boil. Add the polenta. Whisk frequently for about 30-40 minutes until each grain swells up and the mixture has thickened. Add the heavy cream and 2 tablespoons of butter. Season with salt and pepper. Lower the temperature to a gentle simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the cooked beets and sitr until the color is homogeneous. 

Brush a baking sheet with a tablespoon of olive oil. Transfer the polenta onto the baking sheet. Even it out. The polenta should be at least ½-inch thick. Let it cool completely, then refrigerate (for at least an hour) until the rest of the components are ready.

Pan-searing the polenta:
Create disks of polenta, using a 1½-inch diameter circle cutter. Brush them with a tablespoon of olive oil.

Brush a griddle pan with 1 tablespoon butter. Place the polenta disks on the pan. Cook for about 3-4minutes until brown on both sides. Season the polenta with a little salt. Let sit for 5-10 minutes. 

For the sage-flavored cream cheese:

Melt 3 tablespoons butter with the remaining half sage salf in a small saucepan. Let sit for 5 minutes. Soften the cream cheese by whisking it (I used a mini-whisk; a small spoon is fine too). Add the butter and powdered sugar. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a piping bag with a star-shaped tip.

Transfer to a platter. Pipe each appetizer with the sage-flavored cream cheese and garnish with a corn nugget.

Bon appétit!


Fine-milled polenta cooks better than coarse. I always look for Italian cornmeal brands that carry finer mill than American ones.

You can prepare the polenta dough the day before. Just pan-sear the polenta slices when you're ready to serve.

Count about 1 part of polenta to 3 parts of liquid.

I often use different sized circle cutters. I shaped my smoked salmon on wonton puffs with them. You can find circle cutters in any restaurant supply store or kitchen store such as Sur La Table.

I bought corn nuggets at Walgreens!

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on March 12, 2014.


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