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Polenta Tarts with Honey Roasted Tomatoes

Polenta Tarts with Honey Roasted Tomatoes

A creamy layer of homemade ricotta cheese topped with honey roasted tomatoes, all nestled in a cheesy polenta crust, and lunch is served!

honey roasted cherry tomato tarts in a polenta crust

Polenta makes a great alternative to a traditional pastry tart crust.  It's a little more substantial than pastry, easier to make, and gluten-free. Just press warm polenta into a tart shell, let it cool, and then bake in a hot oven to crisp up the edges before filling.

polenta tarts filled with honey roasted tomatoes and feta

For the polenta crust, you'll need:

  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup yellow corn meal
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiana Reggiano

First, bring the salted water to a boil.  Slowly pour the corn meal into the boiling water, whisking constantly.  Reduce the heat to low, stir in the olive oil and grated cheese.  Cook for 15-20 minutes, whisking frequently, until the polenta is thickened.  The texture will resemble mashed potatoes.  Let the polenta cool for 5-10 minutes before forming the tart shells so you don't burn your fingers.

Spoon the mixture into a well oiled 9 inch tart pan or four small 3 inch tart pans.  Moisten your fingertips and press the polenta evenly into the bottom and up the sides of the tart pan.  The crust should be about 1/4 inch thick.  Let the crust set for at least an hour in the fridge to firm up before proceeding.  

You can also prep the crusts up to this point a day in advance.  I'll often make extra polenta and use the leftovers as tart shells for lunch the next day.

For the filling, you'll need:

  • 500 grams cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 large clove of garlic- finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed dried red chilies
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiana Reggiano
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese*

*To make your own ricotta, click here for instructions.  It's easier than you might think!

Preheat the oven to 375F and prepare the tomatoes for roasting.  Slice the tomatoes in half, and arrange them cut side up in a shallow roasting pan in a single layer.  Whisk together the olive oil, honey, garlic, crushed chilies, and salt and pepper in a small bowl.  Drizzle the honey mixture over the cut surface of the tomatoes, and bake for 25-30 minutes, until juicy and bubbling. 

Once the tomatoes are in the oven, remove the polenta crusts from the fridge and sprinkle with the grated Parmigiano.  Bake the crusts alongside the tomatoes for 20-30 minutes, until the edges are crisp.

To assemble the tarts, divide the ricotta cheese evenly between the warm polenta crusts, and top with the roasted tomatoes.  Garnish with some fresh herbs, sweet basil, oregano, thyme, or whatever you like best.  This tart can be served warm or at room temperature, and it travels well, making it ideal for picnic lunches. 

polenta tarts with ricotta and honey roasted tomatoes

You can use this recipe to make a full size tart, smaller individual tarts, or tiny bite sized tartlets.  For party snacks, make these polenta tart shells in mini muffin tins and fill them with ricotta or roasted garlic whipped feta and garnish with a variety of toppings.  Honey roasted tomatoes, black olive tapenade, caramelized onions, and roasted red peppers are all excellent options, but feel free to experiment with what you have on hand.  This is a very versatile, easily adaptable recipe. 

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