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Grape Sofrito on Grilled Polenta with Mascarpone

Grape Sofrito on Grilled Polenta with Mascarpone

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This simple bite-size appetizer combines the flavors of a spicy, slow-cooked Spanish sofrito with the smoky flavor of a firm grilled polenta bite, balanced with the cool richness of mascarpone.


  • ½ cup Olive oil

  • 1 cup White onion

  • 1 cup Red bell pepper, cored and diced

  • 1 cup Green bell pepper, cored and diced

  • 1 cup Red grapes, quartered

  • ¼ cup Black grapes, halved for garnish

  • ½ tsp Kosher salt

  • a pinch Cayenne

  • 1 Tbsp Butter, for greasing dish

  • 3 cups Milk

  • 1 ea Bay leaf

  • 1 ea Jalapeno, roasted, stemmed, seeded, and minced

  • 1 cup Polenta

  • ½ cup Parmesan, finely grated

  • ½ tsp Kosher salt

  • ¼ cup Mascarpone


  • For the grape sofrito: In a small heavy duty saucepan over medium heat, combine the olive oil, onions, and both peppers. Stir to combine, add a pinch of salt, and cook slowly for about 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally and making sure the vegetables don’t get any color; turn the heat lower if you start to get dark spots on the pan.
  • When the mixture is soft and very flavorful, remove from the heat and add 1 cup of the rinsed and quartered red grapes. Stir to combine and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes, just to combine the flavors and soften the grapes. Season with salt and remove from the heat.
  • For the polenta: Butter a 9- by 9-inch baking dish for cooling the finished polenta. In a small saucepot, combine the milk, bay leaf, and minced roasted jalapeno and bring to a simmer. Cook on low for about 5 minutes; add the polenta in a slow stream while stirring the milk slowly. Stir with a wooden spoon occasionally until the mixture becomes thick and the grain has absorbed all of the milk, about 30 minutes. Pour into the prepared dish and smooth out the top of the warm polenta; chill for 2 hours. Cut into 1-inch circles and set aside for grilling.
  • Preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Cook the polenta bites on the hot grill pan for 4 minutes per side, making sure to get nice grill marks and good color.
  • To serve: Place 3 grilled polenta bites on a small plate and top with 1 tablespoon of the warm grape sofrito; add a small dollop of mascarpone and then a grape half. Serve warm or room temperature.

Grape Sofrito on Grilled Polenta