If you love serving a variety of appetizers while hosting a party or you have leftover polenta, these crispy and cheesy polenta bites will surely please excite the palettes! They are actually two bites in one – I mean, if you wanted to you could pop the whole ‘bite’ in your mouth but then you’ll have your mouth kind of uncomfortably full. It’s basically my disclaimer. Of course, the size is ultimately up to you – so if you want to make ’em bite sized, just cut the cheese into smaller cubes. Regardless of the size, I enjoy serving these tasty little crispy and cheesy polenta bites with a simple homemade marinara sauce.
If you don’t have left over polenta then no problem! This recipe takes only 15 minutes! Start out with simmering water, milk, salt and half of a bay leaf in a pot. Add the cornmeal and stir until the polenta is thick and no longer clings to the sides.
To cool off the polenta quickly, place on a plate or wooden board and let chill in the refrigerator for about 20 – 30 minutes.
Once you’ve combined the ingredients to make a batter and formed little balls around your cubes of cheese, they are ready to be rolled in panko crumbs!
They are ready to be placed in hot oil to be cooked to golden brown, crispy perfection!
After a few minutes of frying are ready to serve up with delicious vegetarian appetizers! Serve the Crispy and Cheese Polenta Bites with marinara sauce!
- 1½ cups of water
- ½ cup milk
- ½ cup polenta
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- two dashes of pepper
- ½ bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon minced parsley
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- ½ cup parmesan or pecorino romano cheese, grated
- ⅓ cup flour
- pinch of salt
- pepper to taste
- ¾ cup of panko breadcrumbs
- ½" cubes of mozzarella, havarti or another semi-hard cheese of your choice
- oil for frying
- 1 cup marinara sauce, warmed
- To make the polenta if you don't already have some, heat water and milk in a small saucepan until it comes to a boil. Add salt, pepper and bay leaf.
- Slowly add the cornmeal/ corn grits to the liquid, constantly whisking, and cook until liquid is absorbed and the polenta is nice and thick (about 10-15 minutes)
- Transfer the polenta to a large plate and let it cool in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
- Measure out breadcrumbs and pour into a wide bowl or a plate, set aside.
- Cut the mozzarella cheese into ½" cubes, set aside.
- In a large bowl combine the polenta, parsley, egg, parmesan or pecorino romano cheese, flour, salt and pepper. Mix with hands to incorporate all ingredients. It is a messy process, but it is for the love of good eats.
- Wash hands, and then take a cube of cheese and enough of the polenta mixture to form a ball around it (1½ - 2 tablespoons), roll in panko crumbs and repeat.
- Heat oil in a shallow, heavy bottomed saucepan over high heat (Alternatively, use a deep fryer) until it is hot but not smoking. You'll need to make sure the depth of the oil is 2".
- When the oil is hot enough (325F), gently drop six of the polenta balls into the oil and let them cook until nice and crisp and golden brown (about 1-2 minutes). You don't want to drop the temperature of the oil!
- Drain on a paper towel laden plate. Serve asap, with your favorite marinara sauce. *If you are aren't sure how hot the oil needs to be, take a thermometer to measure the temperature or take a crumb and throw it in to see how fast it cooks. If it sizzles and cooks fairly quickly, it is ready. You can also take a bit of the batter and do a test to see if it is cooking properly.