Recipe: Cheese Polenta

Unlike my own cookbooks, whose dog-eared pages are covered in stains and residue from dishes long past, my mom’s cookbooks all almost completely unmarred. One rare exception is the Cheese Polenta recipe, an instant hit in our family, and one she returned to often. -- lennon


From Jeanne Lemlin’s Quick Vegetarian Pleasures


  • 2 cups low-fat milk
  • 2 cups water
  • ¼ tspn freshly grated nutmeg
  • ½ tspn salt
  • 1¼ cups cornmeal
  • 2 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
  • 4 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup grated Monterrey Jack or Muenster cheese



  1. Generously butter a 9-inch pie plate or shallow 1-quart baking dish and set aside.
  2. Combine the milk, water, nutmeg, and salt in a heavy medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and very slowly sprinkle in the cornmeal, whisking continuously. Cook 5 minutes, or until the cornmeal mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat. Whisk in 1½ tbsp of the butter and 2 tbsp of the Parmesan.
  4. With a rubber spatula, spread half the polenta mixture in the prepared pie plate or baking dish, then top with the grated cheddar and Monterey Jack. Spread on the remaining polenta, then sprinkle on the remaining 2 tbsp Parmesan and dot with the remaining ½ tbsp of butter.
  5. Let the polenta sit at least 15 minutes, or cover and chill for up to 24 hours. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 400°F. Bake uncovered 30 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly.