Crispy Polenta Bites with Green Tapenade


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Making tasty finger food for a crowd can be headache-inducing but this recipe is delicious and much of it can be prepared in advance. Make the polenta and tapenade ahead of time and it will take just 10 minutes or so to cut and fry the squares.

PREPARATION: 10 minutes
COOKING: 15 minutes, plus 3 hours cooling and chilling


For the Polenta

  • 750 ml (26 fl oz/3 cups) hot vegetable stock
  • 140 g (5 oz) instant polenta (cornmeal)
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3 tablespoons potato starch or cornflour (cornstarch), for dusting
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, for frying

For the Tapenade

  • 175 g (6 oz) pitted green olives
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
  • 90 ml (3 fl oz) olive oil, plus extra for brushing
  • finely grated zest of ½ lemon
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon chopped thyme leaves
  • freshly ground black pepper


Line a 20 cm (8 inch) square baking tray with foil, letting it overhang the sides.

To make the polenta, combine the stock, polenta and salt and pepper in a pan and bring to the boil over a medium–high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and stir constantly until very thick, about 5 minutes. Stir in the oregano. Pour into the prepared baking tray and smooth the top with a spatula. Leave to cool, then transfer to the fridge to firm up for at least 2 hours.

Meanwhile, make the tapenade. Put all the ingredients in a food processor and blitz until well combined – you want a slightly chunky texture. Taste for seasoning and set aside.

When the polenta is firm and you’re ready to serve, lift it out of the baking tray and put on a chopping board. Cut into 4 cm (1½ inch) squares with a sharp knife. Spread the potato starch or cornflour out on a plate. Toss the polenta squares in the flour, shaking off any excess.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the squares over a medium–high heat for about 4 minutes each side, or until golden.

Transfer to paper towels. To serve, arrange the polenta squares on a platter and top with a spoonful of tapenade. Best served hot.