TOTAL TIME: Prep: 40 min. + chilling Grill: 10 min.
MAKES: 8 servings


  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 serrano pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • SALSA:
  • 6 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 8 fresh asparagus spears, grilled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 serrano pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Quesco fresco or Monterey Jack cheese, optional

Nutritional Facts

1 serving (calculated without optional cheese): 106 calories, 3g fat (1g saturated fat), 6mg cholesterol, 339mg sodium, 17g carbohydrate (2g sugars, 2g fiber), 4g protein.


  1. In a large heavy saucepan, bring water and salt to a boil. Reduce heat to a gentle boil; slowly whisk in cornmeal. Stir in serrano pepper, garlic and pepper. Cook and stir with a wooden spoon for 12-17 minutes or until polenta is thickened and pulls away cleanly from the sides of the pan. Stir in cheese.
  2. Spread into a greased 8-in. square baking dish. Cool slightly; cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  3. For salsa, in a small bowl, combine the tomatoes, asparagus, green onions, cilantro, serrano pepper, salt and pepper; set aside.
  4. Cut polenta into eight pieces. Moisten a paper towel with cooking oil; using long-handled tongs, lightly coat the grill rack. Grill, covered, over medium heat for 5-7 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Serve with salsa; garnish with cheese if desired. Yield: 8 servings.
Editor's Note: Wear disposable gloves when cutting hot peppers; the oils can burn skin. Avoid touching your face.
Originally published as Polenta Cakes with Fresh Salsa in Taste of Home's Contest Winning Recipes Annual 2015

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