Grilled Polenta & Zucchini Salsa

grilled polenta with zucchini salsa /

Today, we’re taking homemade polenta to a whole new level… (way beyond skipping the stuff that’s sold in the tube). I ground up my own polenta from popcorn! Who knew it was as easy as that?

homemade polenta /

This recipe comes from The Homemade Flour Cookbook, by Erin of Naturally Ella. Erin is one of by best blog friends (BBF’s forever!), and I couldn’t be more proud of her and her beautiful new book. She breaks down the basics of making your own flour out of all sorts of grains, seeds, nuts, and legumes. It’s also packed with recipes for each type of flour. (Side note: if you don’t feel inclined to grind your own flour – you’ll still love her book for all of the wholesome recipes). I can’t wait to try her quesadillas made with Quinoa Tortillas, Buckwheat Enchiladas, and Blueberry Amaranth Muffins.

the homemade flour cookbook

I tried milling this two ways – I used my little cheapie coffee grinder the first time, and my Vitamix the second. (See my notes at the bottom of the post for more details).

This home-ground polenta was creamier and tastier than the kind I usually buy at the store. Plus, it only took a few minutes to grind up and then it cooked faster than usual. (Less than 10 minutes on the stovetop).

raw zucchini salsa /

I took the idea of Erin’s roasted zucchini salsa but made a raw version instead. I diced up the zucchini pretty small, tossed it with tomatoes (and other things), and let it marinate for a few hours so the juices could infuse into zucchini and take away it’s raw bite. (think: zucchini ceviche). At the end, I stirred in some diced avocado and topped it onto my grilled polenta. A perfect light meal for summer!

the homemade flour cookbook

Go get her book!

THE GIVEAWAY: And, of course, we’re giving 1 copy away. To enter, just leave a comment below. (Open to US residents. A winner will be chosen at random on Thursday).

grilled polenta with zucchini salsa

Serves: serves 2
for the corn flour: (this makes extra)
  • 1 cup organic popcorn
  • coffee grinder or high speed blender
for the polenta:
  • ½ cup corn flour
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
raw zucchini salsa:
  • 1 zucchini, diced small
  • ¼ cup red onion, diced
  • ½ of a serrano pepper, diced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • zest & juice of 1 lime (more as needed)
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • handful of chopped cilantro
  • salt & pepper
  • diced avocado
  • optional - a few handfuls of arugula for serving
  1. Grind the popcorn in a coffee grinder or high speed blender (such as a vitamix). Sift to remove the hard pieces from the soft flour (don’t skip this step or you’ll have crunchy polenta).
  2. Make the polenta: In a medium saucepan, bring the corn flour, water, garlic powder, and salt to a boil. Cook, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens to a creamy consistency, 3 to 4 minutes. Spoon the mixture into an oiled 8x8 inch pan. Let the polenta cool completely. (I made mine a few hours in advance and let it chill in the fridge to set).
  3. Make the salsa: mix all ingredients together except for the avocado. Chill for at least 2-3 hours so the raw zucchini can marinate in the lime juice and seasonings. Remove from fridge, add diced avocado, then taste and adjust seasonings. Add more salt, pepper, and/or lime juice to taste. If it's too tart, add a pinch of sugar. (or see Erin's Roasted Salsa Recipe below)
  4. When ready to grill the polenta, slice in to 2-inch squares and brush each side with olive oil. Place on a preheated grill (I suggest using a grill pan since these are delicate). Cook each side until browned, 4-6 (or more) minutes depending on the heat of your grill. (or in my case: pan).
  5. Serve with salsa
  6. (optional - I served mine on top of a few handfuls of arugula).
(alternative option) Erin’s Roasted Zucchini Salsa Recipe: Toss 1 cubed zucchini, ½ diced onion, ¼ of a red pepper (diced), and 1 tablespoon minced serrano with1 tablespoon olive oil and salt. Roast in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes until the zucchini begins to char. Remove and toss with 1 tablespoon lime juice and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro.

Grinding notes:
I used this cheap coffee grinder for small batches. It did a pretty job – the flour was soft and fluffy – although I sifted out a good amount of harder kernel pieces that wouldn’t grind. (Although, popcorn is cheap and so was the coffee grinder). I think this is great for the occasional use, although I could tell the motor was getting warm (I paused every few seconds to let it cool) so I’m not sure how long it would last with this kind of use.

The vitamix blended the popcorn more thoroughly with less waste. (Although if you’re going to be blending flours regularly, Erin suggests getting a separate blender container for flours because these hard grains will dull the blade quicker).

recipe reprinted with publisher permission


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Rate this recipe (after making it):  

  1. This looks awesome! Can’t wait to check out the rest of the book!

  2. Allyn from

    This looks crazy delicious, but the thought of the sound grinding the corn must have made is making me cringe! I’m sure it’s not as bad as I’m imagining.

    • jeanine

      it was loud, I’m not gonna lie! (forgot to mention that 🙂

  3. Emily

    This recipe looks so good! Thanks for sharing a preview of what seems to be an awesome book.

  4. erica

    delicious! I can’t wait to get a copy of that book

  5. Meg

    Looks great! Can’t wait to check out the rest of the book.

  6. Leah

    I had no idea it was so easy to grind your own polenta–amazing! Looks like a great summer recipe. I am very interested in what the other recipes offer!

  7. michelle elwell

    I can’t wait to make my own polenta! thanks for the post!

  8. hayley

    not only is the polenta great, but i love the raw rendition of the salsa! can’t wait to try this one out.

  9. WHAT?! Make your own polenta from popcorn!? I swear that’s something where we all should have known. Funny you share this (and I saw your insta yesterday too), but I introduced my parents to polenta yesterday. Where were they? Probably hiding behind a rock. Great recipe and love courgette so I’m excited to try this! x

  10. maria

    i just learned that my coffee grinder could make flour, and i was wondering if i could grind popcorn, but was too nervous to try. thanks for letting me know i can!

  11. Leana

    This looks delicious. Although I agree that grinding popcorn sounds a little insane, so I’m glad to have your example to follow!

  12. Sabrina

    I didn’t know that it was possible to make your own polenta from popcorn- this is so awesome! Thanks for posting!

  13. court

    This is genius! I am a popcorn fiend and never thought homemade polenta was simple as this!

  14. Kim

    I love your blog! I learn something new every time I visit. I can’t wait to try this! Thank you!!

  15. Kathryne from

    Love this post! I’ve hardly even cooked polenta, let alone made my own. 🙂 So fun to see one of my favorite blogger’s spins on another favorite blogger’s recipe! Erin’s book is awesome.

  16. Abby from

    I’m absolutely doing this!

  17. Gabriella Espinoza

    This is a great recipe for salsa, I always wanted to try different salsa to spice things up. Will definitely try this for sure!

  18. What a great recipe! I’ll definitely have to buy Erin’s cookbook. I adore her website and know her cookbook will be just as wonderful as her site. Beautiful photos!

  19. Krista

    I can’t believe I never realized how polenta is made! Super excited to try this. The roasted version sounds amazing!

  20. Joan S

    I love polenta, and the tomato salsa looks yummy. I won’t grind the corn but will try the recipe. Thanks.

  21. Donna F.

    I’m actually eating zucchini right now! This zucchini salsa (and the entire recipe) looks delicious!

  22. Adele

    I never realized I could make polenta from popcorn! What a great idea!

  23. Shelley from

    It’s totally blowing my mind that you can make polenta from popcorn. Definitely doing this!

  24. dana from

    What a gorgeous cookbook! Love that you chose to tackle the from scratch polenta. So ambitious of you.

  25. Jen

    Totally in love with the ideas behind this recipe! The book sounds fantastic.

  26. Kara from

    So…if I just happened to have a stash of red (or blue…or pink…) popcorn, I could hypothetically make multi-colored polenta? Is that what this means? Must purchase your cheap-o coffee grinder and find out!

  27. Ale from

    I’m madly in love with raw zucchinis and paired with this genius polenta recipe! Wow…. Can’t wait to try it!

  28. Jennifer

    I can’t wait to try this recipe!

  29. Tara

    My husband loves polenta but I am always hard pressed to find one that does not have dairy. This is perfect.

  30. Meghan

    This looks great! I love polenta but have never tried grilling it before.

  31. Kelly Jo

    I have the same question. I’d like to try using the organic red popcorn in my pantry!

  32. Stephanie from

    Why didn’t I think of making polenta before?!? I am loving this idea! It is so simple, and looks so beautiful. You and Erin make me drool daily on Instagram:) You both inspire me to cook local, fresh, and delicious food!

  33. Pooja

    Looks delicious – I am intrigued that I could do this. PS I love your pics and recipes – always inspiring!

  34. Lisa Cohen

    This recipe adaptation is beautiful! I love milling my own grains and just made Erin’s barley flour chocolate chip cookies.

  35. Ellen

    Looks delish-always looking for good zucchini recipes!

  36. Mona from

    The book looks wonderful. I am definitely going to buy it. I just purchased the grain blade/container for my Vitamix and so far the only thing I’ve used it for was to make flax meal. Can’t wait to make some other flours with it.

  37. Lori

    Love the idea of grinding your own flours- so excited to,check out the cookbook- she is clever with combinations of wheat free flours. Thanks for a beautiful post, as always. You keep me inspired in the kitchen!

  38. Sylvie

    Homemade flour… A whole new level of cooking from scratch ! I like this. I am very excited about trying this recipe !!!

  39. aealmeter

    I just started making my own bread and would love to learn more from the cookbook!

  40. Chelsea

    Wow, I never knew you could make polenta from grinding popcorn kernels! This recipe is totally up my alley!

  41. isabelle

    That is wicked clever! I can’t wait to try this way. Yum!

  42. Meghan

    I know that popcorn is made from corn, and polenta is made from corn; I just never figured that popcorn could be made into polenta (or vice versa)! Polenta is such a great and versatile grain, too- a nice change from quinoa or couscous bowls. This recipe is so clever, yet simple. I can’t wait to get my hands on Erin’s book, which I’m sure is packed with other genius ideas. Lovely!

  43. Jillian L

    I love the idea of making flours, when I found out you could make almond meal from making almond milk and dry it out for use, my baking totally changed! I love polenta and had no idea you could make it just from popcorn!! I’m going to make this and top it with some grilled shrimp, cheers!

  44. This looks awesome! I love raw zucchini and I can’t wait to try it in this salsa. I had no idea polenta was ground popcorn kernels. Nice!

  45. nancy

    I found you on Pinterest this AM. I’m very excited to try new healthy ideas especially for my health. Thanks this looks like all must haves.

  46. Bonnie from

    Polenta from popcorn! That’s genius!! Can’t wait to try it.

  47. Jessie

    Yes, please! I always want todo polenta but can’t rationalize having cornmeal, corn flour, and polenta–popcorn is a great idea!

  48. lacey

    Yum, I love polenta, but I have not tried grilling it yet!

  49. Love this idea! I never would have thought of grinding your own flours, but I can see how it would be perfect for polenta : )

  50. Thanks for sharing this recipe. I love the fact that the raw zucchini salad brings something that is traditionally eaten during the winter (at least in Italy) and makes a totally viable summer dish. Lovely!
    The recipe book looks gorgeous too!

    • jeanine

      ha – I didn’t realize zucchini was a winter vegetable in Italy – it grows all summer here 🙂

      • Hi Jeanie, I meant that here polenta is considered “pesante” (heavy) winter food probably because it’s usually eaten with stewed meats, autumn/winter mushrooms, and lots of cheese … so adding the raw zucchini and grilling it makes a great summer dish…

        • jeanine

          oh, ha! of course 🙂

          • debbie daniels

            there must be a trick in making the popcorn into polenta.
            i gave it my best shot, ground popcorn in my vitamix. followed exactly and after stirring 30 minutes it was just still a watery soup, nothing at all began to firm. never had seen anything like it.
            so, how do you get it firm like normal polenta?
            very frustrating because like everyone else on this blog , i was super excited to make it as well.

          • jeanine

            oh no – I’m so sorry you had trouble. Hmm… did you try setting it in the fridge anyway? Mine (after stirring it), firmed up a bit but it wasn’t super thick and creamy (like other polenta I’ve made) – I poured it into the glass container and let it chill in the fridge and it set.

            Next time, I would maybe try adding less water to start with if you want to get it creamier straight out of the pot. (Hope this helps!)

  51. Absolutely beautiful! I had no idea polenta was that easy to make, too — need to try it!

  52. Jess from

    That looks SO good. I might have to try making it for dinner tonight! Thanks.

  53. Mrs. D. from

    I never thought about grinding popcorn for polenta. Neat idea!

  54. Good timing! I made a bunch of polenta the other night and have a ton of leftovers.

  55. This looks incredible! I have never tried milling my own polenta, but now I can’t wait! Thanks for the idea.

  56. Katie H.

    And here I always thought that polenta wasn’t from the whole kernel. I’ve run out of corn meal a time or two, but always have popcorn on hand. I’ve ground oats and rice before – looks like this would be a good book for me!

  57. Popcorn polenta is just the neatest idea ever! Did you have a grain attachment for your vitamix?

    • jeanine

      I don’t have one (and I didn’t actually know one existed!)

  58. jesse

    this looks great. perfect for summer.

  59. Wendy

    Can’t wait to try this zucchini salsa. Sounds delightful!

  60. Asha from

    Smacks head and wonders why it never occured to her! Seriously! popcorn to polenta! Love it. I want that book, just to find out all the things that I have glaringly not noticed! and Learn :))

  61. krystal

    popcorn = polenta. mind blown. i feel like this cookbook will contain a lot of those moments!!

  62. audrey

    can’t wait to try this recipe! yum!!

  63. Mary Ann

    Pretty timely! I just ate polenta and greens (beet and kale) with carmelized onions (reheated from last night in a hot skillet) for lunch!

    It is a little early here in the South for some of the fresh vegetables (home grown at least) I am seeing on the food blogs I cruise, but I do happen to have a jar of Zucchini relish to go with the polenta!

  64. Allison Z

    This looks great! Love the idea of making homemade polenta. Thank you for sharing!

  65. Dariana

    The idea of grinding popcorn into flour sounds like just the sort of madness my friends always suspect me of… I’ll have to try it!

  66. Leah Yablong

    This recipe looks delicious and simple enough for me to do! I knew polenta was corn, but I didn’t realize that you could grind your own kernels to make it! Such a great trick, I can’t wait to make this!

  67. Savannagal

    I’ve read a lot lately about how the taste of freshly ground flour is so much better than store bought. I’ve also read that if you really want to grind your own, to buy an electric grinder because manual ones take forever. I’d love to give it a try some time just to see if I could tell the difference in taste.

  68. KnitsterMama

    This looks like a great no-meat meal. And I just planted zucchini in our garden. Will definitely give it a try. Thanks for the wonderful recipe and photos.

  69. kelli heidtmann

    since I am a baker, the idea of grinding my own flour is daunting, so much grinding! but this polenta…this looks amazing, how far to grind it…does it make a difference in the end result, if you use a courser or finer grind? I would think so, just like coffee.
    I would love to put this book to the test.

    • jeanine

      Hi Kelli, mine ground pretty fine pretty easily – just be sure to sift it before you use it because the hard pieces are harder than “course,” and wouldn’t be pleasant to eat.

  70. Jessica

    This is perfect. I didn’t know what I was going to make for dinner tonight. Now I’m inspired to make polenta. Thanks!

  71. This looks delicious – I’m always looking for great, gluten-free recipes to try out. Yum!

  72. Jessica J

    I am new to your blog and loving all the recipes! Thank you for all the inspiration!

  73. Sara

    Like so many others, I had no idea grinding your own polenta was even possible! Can’t wait to read the cookbook 🙂

  74. betty mechles

    Talk about getting back to basics. grinding your own there flours, pretty cool. I”m ready.

  75. Barbara Bass

    I will have to try both of these. Love your blog.

  76. This was a very useful article. I had not thought about grinding my own flour, but this has definitely inspired me. Great recipe!

  77. Margaret

    What an exciting exploration! I had never considered making my own flour. Thank you for the idea!

  78. I am huge fan of polenta and had no idea you could make it from ground popcorn – how cool! The photos in this book look ah-mazing too!

  79. Jenn

    I have been looking to expand my cookbook collection, as I am growing tired of all the recipes in my current arsenal! So awesomely cool that you can make your own polenta out of the popcorn too — it seems so logical after knowing, but I would’ve never guessed that on my own. I make oat flour pretty regularly with my vitamix, but would loveee that book to get tips on other varieties!

  80. Archana from

    Beautiful recipe and pictures! I like the idea of grinding flours at home…One ingredient used in different ways….I’ve tried oats flour, but never polenta….this does make me want to try it out!

  81. jmp

    whoa, i had never thought of grinding up corn and using it to make polenta. i can’t wait to try this!

  82. Meredith

    Now this is a polenta recipe I can’t wait to try! So simple and it looks so delicious!

  83. I love this popcorn polenta idea!!!!! I need to fire up my blender now! This salsa looks sooooooo droooool-worthy!!!!! All I want to do is eat a BIG spoonful of it!

  84. Beth

    This looks so delightfully refreshing and yummy! I had never thought about making polenta from scratch before, but it doesn’t sound too hard. Thanks for the continued inspiration!

  85. What a wonderful idea. Never thought of making my own corn meal. I will definitely try this now. Thank you for the beautiful post and book recommendation.

  86. Jasmine from

    This is GENIUS! My brother is an a id bread baker so that’s what sparks my interest in flours. He uses fresh everything! From ground flour to homegrown herbs to his own sourdough starter. It’s awesome!

  87. Michele Garretson

    Beautiful! I’m new to your Blog and am in love already~

  88. Lauren from

    This recipe looks perfect for summer! My husband never thinks that an all veggie recipe (i.e. meatless) is filling enough for dinner. This one could definitely work though! Thanks!

  89. Annie Halfpenny

    what a great cookbook!

  90. MicheleW

    Oh this looks amazing!

  91. Melanie

    I love the idea of homemade flour! Would love to try all the recipes in this book.

  92. Cathy H

    I love, love, LOVE the idea of making my own polenta in the Vitamix.
    This looks like a wonderful recipe for these hot summer days.
    Thanks for the great blog and inspiring recipes.

  93. James S

    My wife loves polenta and we just got some cherry tomatoes from our friend’s garden, so I know what to cook for dinner tomorrow night. Thanks! Looks delicious!

  94. Lisa from

    Mmmm, polenta! So delicious. This sounds absolutely amazing.

  95. anjanee from

    I love making other flours at home but have never thought to make polenta! This recipe looks delicious and I’m looking forward to owning this book!

  96. Martha

    Beautiful photos, as usual! I was just looking for a summery polenta recipe, can’t wait it try!

  97. I love polenta but have only ever bought it already made from the local store – excited to make at home from scratch! Love all your tips and notes – very helpful for us newbie cooks!!

  98. Naomi from

    I just saw this cookbook featured on thekitchn and wow! I am absolutely fascinated! The idea of grinding popcorn into polenta is just amazing!

  99. Tasha

    This recipe looks so yummy. This cookbook would be an excellent addition to my ever growing collection.

  100. Verena

    Hello Jeanine,

    Do you think this might be possible to make in a regular frying pan?


    • jeanine

      Hi Verena – yes, definitely. I would probably use a nonstick pan if you have one – they’re a little delicate.

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.