Easy Vegan Entertaining: Polenta Squares with Sundried Tomato and Walnut Tapenade

polenta squares sundried tomato tapenadeAll images © James Ransom for Food52

This is a funny post to share, since it’s been ages since I could even think about “entertaining.” I love having people over, and I’ve hosted some dinners here in D.C. for my friends in the post-bacc program, but not for at least a year. I look forward to the moment when the academic clouds part a little, so that I can share scrumptious vegan food for them once again.

In the meantime, I can at least write about entertaining. And that’s just what I’ve done in today’s New Veganism post over at Food52. My focus is on vegan friendly appetizers, and I feature six crowd pleasing ideas!

The star of the post is this recipe for polenta squares with sundried tomato and walnut tapenade. The tapenade is based on the recipe featured in this pizza post, and the polenta recipe is tried and true in my kitchen, but new to my readers. Polenta is marvelously versatile and fun to work with. And, whether you choose to serve it soft or let it harden, you can use it as a base for fresh roasted vegetables, legumes, tomato sauce, or greens. If you’re a gluten free eater, you can look for gluten free certified yellow cornmeal to make the recipe work for you.

polenta squares sundried tomato tapenade

These polenta bites are perfectly party-sized. The tapenade is a little salty and packed with flavor, and you can use any leftovers for wraps, sandwiches, or dipping crackers or veggies. Even if you’re not planning on entertaining, you should still check the recipe out. I tested and devoured it all by my lonesome, and it was no less delicious for the lack of company.



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Categories: Vegan Basics
Dietary Preferences: Gluten Free

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  1. Great post, as always. And I’m so glad they (you?) finally removed the phrase “rabbit food” from your tagline.

  2. Made this tonight for a small dinner fathering with friends and about to serve – delicious and reminiscent to me of the sundried tomato layers in pure’s lasagna! Thanks for pushing me out of my sometimes vegan appetizer rotation rut (I tend to stick to a few tried and true favorites). Thanks for the recipe, Elizabeth (the one you met at candle 79 on thanksgiving)

  3. Great idea Gena,
    We love to entertain but I always find myself wanting to use the same recipes over and over. I guess I love to play it safe. I am going to make these over Easter when there will be lots of friends and family around. I love polenta anyway so this should be a big hit with me and hopefully everyone.
    Thanks and I’ll let you know!

  4. These look quite delightful! Great little bites for entertaining or just need a little ‘something’. It’s been a long time since I’ve had polenta. I bought the kind in a tube, sliced it and pan-fried it with coconut oil and fresh herbs. So simple, so delicious!

  5. Actually, I have to admit I had to look up “polenta” in Wikipedia just now because I had never heard of it before. I guess one learns something every day… I do love cornbread, so if this tastes anything like that when finished I will be a happy camper.

  6. These look great! The boy and I are planning on hosting some wine tastings soon and these would be a great snack idea!

  7. What a great combination of flavors, sweet polenta and salty/nutty walnut tapenade! Fantastic recipe and entertaining idea. I have a get together next week, this will be on the menu! Thanks for sharing Gena 🙂

  8. The dish is beautiful as always (although for some reason I’m hopeless when it comes to polenta, mine always has the texture of wallpaper paste) but your story of no get-togethers for over a year and coming up with “party” recipes alone makes me a little sad. I so admire and appreciate your incredible dedication to the health of all us fellow vegans, but I do hope you get some relief soon from the grind!

    • Aw, Ali, don’t let my whiney posts tug at your heartstrings 🙂 I’m just in the thick of things — and yes, it’ll get better soon. Also, I do make time for friends. I’ve just been too tired to have people over — I feel as though it demands a different kind of energy/organization!

  9. I love sharing your food with people, Gena! My older brother had a party tonight and invited a bunch of pepperoni pizza- and buffalo wing-lovin’ guys over, but he asked me, the little veggie lover, to make some food for them. Well, I made these polenta squares, and not one was left! I also made some of your guacamole, kale chips, and hummus, and they were all devoured. 🙂 Thank you for all of your easy, delicious, and party-friendly recipes!

  10. Polenta is one of my favorite foods, and I can imagine it being the perfect base for the tapenade. I’m going to save the recipe for the next time I have guests. I love to surprise people with delicious vegan tidbits!