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. 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.

  2. Tasha

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

  3. 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!

  4. 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!!

  5. Martha

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

  6. 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!

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.