There's a lot of room for flexibility with this recipe. For instance, you can choose what herbs, and how much, you'd like to use in the sauce. I had fresh chives, basil, tarragon, rosemary and thyme in the fridge when I made this. The rich, earthy flavor of the tarragon added an unexpected depth to what would have been a fairly traditional tasting Italian sauce. The smell filling the kitchen was extraordinary. But the recipe can easily adapt to whatever you have in the cupboard or garden. Try out any of your favorite herbs in this sauce and don't be shy with them — the base of onion, celery and tomato can handle it.

Adapted from a recipe by Kelly Rossiter.

polenta and tomatoes

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 45 minutes

Total time: 60 minutes

Yield: 4-6 servings

Polenta with Savory Tomato Chickpea Sauce


  • 1 cup polenta
  • 3 cups water (adjust according to directions on polenta package)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (for polenta)
  • 1 pinch fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (for sauce, and for topping)
  • 2 onions, one diced and one very thinly sliced
  • 3 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 celery rib, sliced
  • 4 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon mixed Italian herbs such as basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, tarragon and sage
  • 1 onion, very thinly sliced
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large pot, heat the water to a high simmer. Slowly add in the polenta, stirring constantly until it thickens. Add in the olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and stir to combine. Pour the polenta into a greased loaf pan and place it in the oven to bake for 20-25 minutes or until cooked through.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until it is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the celery and cook another 3 or 4 minutes. Add in the tomatoes and tomato paste, reduce the heat to low, and allow the mixture to simmer until the tomatoes are cooked through. Add the chickpeas and cook the mixture until the chickpeas are heated through.
  3. In a small skillet, heat the last tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute them until they are golden brown. Remove them, and add the zucchini to the skillet. Allow them to crisp up on one side, then turn them and crisp them on the other side. Mix them with the onions and set aside.
  4. Add herbs to the simmering tomato-chickpea sauce, and add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Slice the polenta and plate it. Spoon the sauce over the polenta, and top with the crispy onion and zucchini mixture. Serve and enjoy!

polenta with tomatoes, finished dish

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Jaymi Heimbuch ( @jaymiheimbuch ) focuses on wildlife conservation and animal news from her home base in San Francisco.

Polenta with Savory Tomato Chickpea Sauce
Hot polenta and a savory chickpea-tomato sauce are topped with thin, crispy slices of zucchini.