Baked Cheesy Polenta with Fennel Salami

, from Issue #103. May, 2022
Photography by Josh Griggs.
Baked Cheesy Polenta with Fennel Salami

When you’re looking for a hearty, golden and bubbling dish of goodness, this is the one.

Serves: 4-6


6 cups milk, or use half milk, half water
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon ground fennel
ground pepper
350 grams instant polenta
1 cup freshly grated parmesan
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups purchased, thick tomato pasta sauce – use your favourite flavour
250 grams mascarpone
finely grated zest 1 lemon
2 cups grated mozzarella
80 grams thinly sliced fennel salami, roughly ripped
½ cup basil leaves
extra parmesan, for serving

Equipment: Lightly grease a 33cm x 24cm shallow baking tin and a small roasting dish or baking dish.


Preheat the oven to 200°C fan bake.

Heat the milk, garlic, salt and fennel with a good grind of pepper in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil, then drizzle in the polenta, whisking constantly until thick. Cook for 3 minutes until very thick. Remove from the heat and stir in the parmesan and butter. Tip into the shallow baking tin and spread evenly. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to cool.

Tip the polenta onto the bench and cut into two slabs (see Cook’s note). Spread half the pasta sauce in the base of the small roasting or baking dish and top with one piece of polenta. Spread over the mascarpone, lemon zest and half each of the mozzarella and salami, plus all the basil. Top with the second piece of polenta. Spread with the remaining tomato sauce, mozzarella and salami. Add a generous grating of parmesan and season with salt and pepper.

Bake for 25 minutes, until golden and bubbling. Scoop out into dishes and serve with a big green salad.

Cook’s note: You can cut the polenta into pieces to fit whatever size baking dish you have. It will all hold together when baked.

The new Kererū Melusina Sea Buckthorne Gose (440ml 4.4% $57x6pk) is superb with this rib-sticking dish. Brewed with sea salt and seaweed, its savoury base is infused with sour sea buckthorne and citrussy hops.

Kereru beer