A LITTLE HISTORY AND A HELPFUL TIP: Corn has been an important part of the original Ikaria diet, in so far as one can claim that, with corn being a New World crop. But what I mean is that once established in the Mediterranean, for almost half a millenium now, it became something people could grow themselves, On Ikaria, a few generations ago, cooks grew and dried their corn and ground the kernels into amber granules. These were a substitute for rice. Corn meal was a staple, too, called by various names: aravositaro, bobota, and was used in polenta-like dishes, all creamy and comforting. You can make the polenta a day or two ahead of time and sear it just before serving.
2 h 15 min
55 min


For the polenta

For the sauce

  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin Greek olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped red onion
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 6 medium firm ripe fresh tomatoes, finely chopped with juices
  • cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • cup chopped fresh basil
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 24 Kalamata olives pitted and chopped
  • 2 Tbsp capers rinsed and chopped
  • For Grilling the Polenta
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin Greek olive oil
  • Greek sea salt and pepper to taste


  1. Make the Polenta: In a medium to large pot, bring the water, almond milk, rosemary, oregano sprigs, garlic, and salt to a boil and allow the herbs to steep for 15 minutes. Remove the garlic and herbs. Bring the liquid back to a simmer and add the polenta in a slow steady stream, whisking all the while. Cook, stirring, for 10 minutes, or until thick. Oil a 9 X 13-inch glass baking dish and spread the polenta evenly into the pan, smoothing out the surface with a rubber spatula. Cool to room temperature, cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least two hours.
  2. Prepare the sauce: In a large, wide, shallow pot or deep skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat and cook the onion, stirring, until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and stir once or twice. Pour in the tomatoes, parsley and basil. Cook the tomatoes until the sauce begins to thicken, about 15 minutes. Toss the olives and capers into the sauce and mix to combine.
  3. While the sauce is simmering, remove the chilled polenta and cut it into approximately 2-inch-X-4-inch (5-cm-X-10-cm) strips. Light a grill pan over high heat and add a tablespoon of olive oil. Sear the polenta strips, turning once, until golden and grill marks have formed. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Continue until all the strips are seared. Serve the polenta on individual plates or a platter, with the olive-tomato confit on top.

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Want to learn more easy, healthy Mediterranean diet recipes? Sign up for my online course “Mastering the Mediterranean!

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