Mediterranean Polenta Cups

Photography by Jason Little | Food Styling by Johanna Brannan Lowe

Creamy polenta is mixed with pistachio-basil pesto and topped with slivers of juicy olives and red peppers.

Servings: 6
Serving size: 2 polenta cups (185 grams)
Prep time: 20 minutes (plus at least 2 hours of refrigeration)
Cooking time: 10 minutes


  • 3 cups (710 milliliters) water
  • 1 cup polenta cornmeal
  •  ¼ cup shelled pistachios, lightly salted
  • 1 ½ cups fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • ½ cup chopped Kalamata olives
  • ½ cup chopped roasted red peppers


  1. Mist a 12-muffin tin with cooking spray and set aside. Bring water to a boil in a medium stockpot over high heat. Add polenta and remove from heat. Stir constantly until thickened, about 5 minutes.
  2. In a food processor, pulse pistachios until finely chopped. Add basil and pulse, then add oil, Parmesan and garlic and continue pulsing until blended, about 45 seconds.
  3. Stir half of the pesto mixture into the polenta. Spoon the pesto-polenta mixture into muffin tin compartments, filling each halfway. Cover and refrigerate until polenta has set, at least 2 hours or overnight.
  4. Turn on oven broiler. Remove polenta from refrigerator, gently remove each polenta cup and place on a cookie sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Top each polenta cup with 2 teaspoons each of olives and peppers and 1 teaspoon of remaining pesto. Place under broiler for 1 to 2 minutes, until polenta is lightly browned and pesto bubbles. Remove from oven and serve immediately.
  5. Freeze leftover polenta cups in an airtight container. To reheat, place polenta cups in the refrigerator for 2 hours to thaw or microwave each for 45 seconds to 60 seconds.

Nutrition Per Serving:
CALORIES 198; TOTAL FAT 11g; SAT. FAT 2g; CHOL. 3mg; SODIUM 262mg; CARB. 20g;

Note: Nutrition information for potassium and phosphorus in polenta not available. Used raw chopped red pepper instead of roasted red pepper for analysis.

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Vicki Shanta Retelny
Vicki Shanta Retelny, RDN, is a lifestyle nutrition expert, author, speaker, recipe and content creator based in Chicago. She blogs at Follow her on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.