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.

  • Yummy! I’ve been desperate to make something with baked polenta for a while now but never really known what to do, or how to do it. So this is great, thanks for sharing!

  • This looks amazing! I love the idea of polenta in there. Such a fun twist!

  • Holy deliciousness. Not to mention, the beauty…
    Definitely making this asap. Thank you, ladies! (:

  • Oh my gosh this looks delicious! Will be trying this very soon!

    xo Megan, Lush to Blush

  • YUM! YUM! My mom and I planted 15 tomato plants, now I have another way to use tomatoes. Thank you!

  • This is amazing! Tomatoes are my favourite.

    Janine Maral from

  • This looks amazing! The polenta is a great dairy free alternative to mozzarella:)

  • Ohhhhhhhh my goodness.. Valsamic vinegar with tomato, basil AND polenta?! This is my dream meal and it looks great. Great work Emma!

  • I’m counting down until tomatoes are in season! This looks gorgeous

  • These look so tasty! Def plan to give them a try! Thanks for sharing!
    Xo, Randi

  • This is such a unique salad! Looks so colorful and yummy 🙂

  • Emma…I love, luv, lurve your recipes. I’m constantly printing out pages upon pages of your images & instructions. Which made me think…is there any way to incorporate a print text option into your recipe page? This way, us foodies could print just the instructions (and save a few trees in the process). Just a thought. Otherwise, thanks for all your hard work! Keep ’em coming.

  • wow that looks amazing! I love tomatoes and your pictures really made me hungry again.

  • I’m curious. Is there a specific reason that you chose not to include mozzarella? The dish look delish without it, I was just wondering. 🙂


  • Oh this looks delicious. I’ve never tried polenta before I’ll have to give it a go.


  • Beautiful and delicious! And yes, it makes a perfect dinner party dish. x

  • Yum!! I’m always looking for new recipes using polenta! And I love caprese salads but we are a gluten free, dairy free household, so this is perfect! Thanks!

  • Yummy! I’m not a huge fan of raw tomatoes (it’s a texture thing) but roast them and I am ALL OVER THAT! Roasted tomatoes are my absolute favorite and I love having a jar on hand to make a yummy panzanella.


  • This recipe looks delicious. Fresh tomatoes are so perfect for summer. I really love cooking so I like sharing recipes as well, xo

  • This looks so delish, and perfect for summer. Have you tried banana polenta? Such a great summer change-up (check it out on my blog).

  • Yum, this looks amazing. I think I might have to give Polenta a try at home 🙂

  • Hmmm needing to go get some polenta after work might delay my next reading of BLOG LIFE … THE CHOICES IN LIFE WE HAVE TO MAKE !!!

  • Yum! I’ve been making a tomato and zucchini “lasagna” with cashew cheese and it’s SO GOOD. Tomatoes are so good when they’re in season!

  • I love polenta! Can’t wait to try this.

  • Eek, that’s a lot of balsamic on top. But I definitely like the idea, I’ll just go lighter on the dressing:)

  • this looks so pretty! (and yummy!)


  • Thanks for the advice. I just might have to do that. 🙂


  • dammit this looks sooo yummy

  • This is definitely one of my fav salads! It’s easy, simple and super tasty!

  • Yum! I’ve been on a bit of a tomato kick lately. Maybe I’ll give this a try while the kids go to their dad’s house today. Looks amazing, Emma 🙂


    Laurali Star

  • This looks amazing! My only comment is that I wish you used fresh polenta for it instead of that tube stuff. I noticed you used the tube stuff for that crouton recipe, too. Fresh polenta is super easy to make, and it tastes about a billion times better than pre-made. Give it a try next time! :o)

  • This is so easy to make, but it looks very classy! Such a great idea!

  • Hi Stephanie! We plan to contact the winner directly. 🙂 – Jacki

  • This looks so good and I loved your polenta croutons!!!!! Also just wondering if you have announced the ABM challenge winner yet on Instagram?

  • I had never thought of this idea! I try to respect the four seasons in my way of eating and I don’t eat tomatoes until about May-June. That will be a great pleasure to taste this recipe! Thank you Emma!

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