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Soft Polenta with Roasted Smoky Chickpeas, Grape Tomatoes, Chard, and Creamy Basil Sauce

From Great Bowls of Food: "More magic from smoke! Smoked paprika gives familiar chickpeas a sexy, summery kiss of flavor. The soft, creamy polenta is purely comforting, and it cradles the chard and tomatoes like an Italian nonna’s bosom."
Total Time 45 mins
Servings 4 servings


  • cups medium-grind cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon salt divided
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil divided
  • cups cooked chickpeas rinsed and drained
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 ounces chèvre goat cheese
  • ½ cup plain yogurt not Greek*
  • 1 large bunch chard washed, stemmed and dried
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes halved
  • *I used Greek which created a thick, but delicious, sauce


  • In a 2-quart saucepan, combine the cornmeal and ½ teaspoon salt, then gradually whisk in the water and milk. Over medium heat, whisk while it comes to a boil. Reduce heat to keep it just bubbling, and scrape the bottom of the pan as you stir every 5 minutes for about 20 to 30 minutes. When it reaches the desired thickness, stir in Parmesan. Keep warm.
  • In a large sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the drained chickpeas and shake in the pan, rolling them around until they start to pop and crackle. Cook for about 5 minutes, until slightly browned. Sprinkle with smoked paprika and ¼ teaspoon salt, then transfer to a bowl.
  • In a food processor, mince the basil and garlic. Add the chèvre and yogurt and 1 tablespoon of olive oil and process until smooth.
  • In the large sauté pan, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and sauté the chard until wilted and dark green, and add remaining ¼ teaspoon salt.
  • Serve ¼ of the polenta in each bowl, topped with ¼ of the chard and chickpeas, ¼ of the grape tomatoes, and drizzled with 3 tablespoons of basil sauce per bowl.


Recipe reprinted with permission from Countryman Press.