A side of herb polenta bake and an aside

Yak: You are a good lad, will you look after me when I am old?
Kid 2: Probably, but I might be somewhere else.
Me: Kid 2, if I were you, I would start running now. Unfortunately, I have nowhere left to run.

This hearty side of polenta is magnificent Yak food. It helps trick convince The Yak into feeling like he is not ‘missing out’. There is very little that this side dish doesn’t go with. We have scoffed it down with a ratatouille like vegetarian sauce as well as a creamy braised mushroom dish. It goes beautifully with a myriad of casseroles or good piece of meat or fish. Breakfast for dinner? Try it with a fried or poached egg and some steamed asparagus.

Chuck in whatever herb combination tickles your fancy. No fresh herbs? Then throw in a teaspoon of dried Italian herbs and let them steep in the stock whilst it comes to the boil. This version has parsley, thyme and a smidgen of sage. In the time it took me to prepare the thyme (boom tish) for this dish, my lads had gone to high school, got degrees, travelled the world and started families. Picking the leaves off thyme is one of the worst kitchen jobs. I would love to say I find it meditative but I don’t.

Take note if you will, of the beautiful wooden board that this polenta sits upon. Uncle R, a veritable goldmine of funny and punny one liners and the master of the ‘aside’ made this for me back in 1993. Whilst staying in Christchurch, NZ, with the always hospitable Uncle R and Aunty L, we took a day trip to Akaroa and stopped in at French Farm winery for a snack with flavour. Some of the food was served upon divine wooden boards that were labelled ‘French Farm Vineyards’. I admired them greatly and Uncle R, a collector of bits of wood (as well as of puns) said ‘Don’t worry niece, I shall make you a board just as nice as this one.’ (He would have said this in a silly voice, cause that’s how he rolls.)

Back at their house, he whipped up a piece of kauri (wood) into this gorgeous wee board, copying the details from the one back at the vineyard. It is exactly the same as the original version I had coveted. Bar one thing. It’s made with the love, care and thoughtful detail of my uncle, and it is far better than anything I could have ever purchased for myself. And that my friends, is something that you just don’t get bored of.


1 cup gluten free veggie stock and 2 cups water (the original recipe calls for 3 cups of stock but I find it too salty for my taste.)
1 cup instant polenta
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup chopped fresh herbs (such as parsley, sage, thyme, oregano) this is a bit flexible I have also used 1-2 to 1 cup with great results.
3 tbl grated Parmesan
30g butter
Salt to taste
3 tbl grated Parmesan extra for topping

Preheat the oven to 180C and line a 15cm x 15cm baking dish with baking paper. I use a larger one and it makes a wedge of polenta that is about 22cm x 18cm and 3cm high.)
Bring the stock and water to the boil in a medium saucepan.
Pour in the polenta and cook over a medium heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly, the mixture should be very thick.
Stir in the garlic, chopped herbs, parmesan and butter and taste for seasoning.
Pour/spread the mixture into the baking dish. Smooth the surface and sprinkle with the extra Parmesan.
Bake for 20-30 minutes until the cheese is melted and golden brown.
Cut into triangles, squares or into whatever damn crazy shape you wish.
Serves 8 with one piece each.

Recipe from The Gluten-free Kitchen by Sue Shepherd


41 thoughts on “A side of herb polenta bake and an aside

  1. Ahhh!
    You’re my hero for making this!
    I mean, my God this looks good.
    I guess I better go on ahead and bookmark this page because in a few weeks is Thanksgiving over here and I wanna show OFF.
    This will be my leading number πŸ˜€

    • Oh my, a hero? Little old me? OK, I can live with that. 😁 This would make a grand Thanksgiving side and you will be bowed down to in your magnificent polenta glory. It is a seriously yummy dish. Glad you could see this post as WordPress has done a number and it’s not showing in the regular feed, only in Blogs I Follow. (Darn WordPress, shaking metaphorical fist!) cest la vie!

  2. troppodon

    Ho ho ho ho

    Donald Alexander,LLB (Otago), MA -Communication-Organisational Communication (Charles Sturt), Senior Lecturer, Public Relations and Organisational Communication, Postgraduate Course Coordinator, School of Communication, Charles Sturt University, Bathurst
    02 6338 4031 0405 125 378 dalexander@csu.edu.au

    This email has been sent by Charles Sturt University (ABN 83 878 708 551). This email (and any attachment) is confidential and is intended for the use of the addressee(s) only. If you are not the intended recipient of this email you must not copy, distribute, take any action in reliance on it or disclose it to anyone. Any confidentiality is not waived or lost by reason of mistaken delivery to you. The views expressed in this email are not necessarily those of Charles Sturt University. It is very important that before opening any attachments to this email you check them for viruses and defects. CSU does not accept liability for any corruption or viruses or any consequence which arise as a result of this email transmission. Email communications with CSU may be subject to automated email filtering, which could result in the delay or deletion of a legitimate email before it is read by its intended recipient at CSU. Please tell us if you have concerns about this automatic filtering. The Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) Provider Number is 00005F (NSW), 025973E (QLD), and 01947G (VIC) for Charles Sturt University.

    • It is a totally delicious thing to eat, yeah, he is a winner!! I agree Mrs V (love a bit of rhyme). It’s great with a tomato based sauce that has a hit of chilli. Oh yes.

  3. I noticed the board immediately! This mouthwatering post makes me want to try the polenta (herbs + cheese = perfect, though I can sympathize re the thyme leaves). I wonder about the difference between instant polenta and cornmeal… in the past, I’ve just used regular cornmeal. But apparently there are many different types.

    • Thanks LM! It’s a great wee dish. Over here it’s usually called polenta and there is instant or regular. The regular takes longer to cook, I am lazy and usually go the route of the instant! The instant has been pre cooked so is faster. Yeah!

  4. I certainly hope all the folks in your family are aware of the time you spent with the thyme. I have two great bushes of the herb in my back garden, and I think because they’ve been there growing for the last seven years, they’ve developed quite a sturdy stalk for the tiny leave to cling to. I hold each stalk by the tips and strip them backward. It takes seconds. But the bendy thyme I get from the grocer’s is quite impossible.
    And I’m guessing out of the two of you, your kids may likely choose to check up on you with a bit more frequency then dear old dad–unless he learns to speak to them in “stomach” like you do! πŸ˜›

    • Darned bendy thyme, it’s so fine that the minute you go to strip them they just break. I need to grow me a bush and get me some of those sturdy stalks like yours. (I will have to make time for that…) Is my cunning master plan that transparent? Daddy who? He he….😁

    • Thanks Mrs H. He is is one of the good guys. (I am a big fan of silly voices, if I was talking I would be doing one right now…) 😁 I love the versatility of this polenta dish. And it’s easy, even better!

  5. That is some damn fine looking baked polenta Ms Cheer! I would be happy if you cooked that and let me fill my face with it. I would bring wine and a nice gift to show appreciation for your hospitality… and I would knick that wooden board before I left. I lurve a good wooden board πŸ™‚

    • Hello Mrs S! Does that mean you are coming here on a holiday? Chuckle, guffaw…i just read your post and it made me laugh. St Patrick’s day…my kids go to a St Patricks catholic school, so I may be able to come up with something! May pop it on the end of my next post. Thanks for the um, honour?! lol… πŸ˜‰

  6. Pingback: Roasted baby carrots with cumin for Easter | The Cheergerm & the Silly Yak

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