Tomatoes, basil and mozzarella cheese… I can’t think of many flavor combinations I like more. Whether a caprese salad, a pesto pasta salad tossed with grape tomatoes and bocconcini, a grilled panini or a margherita pizza, this classic Italian pairing is undeniably good. All summer I’ve been making Audrey these great little polenta bites that not only highlight this perfect marriage of flavors, but also the best of summer produce. You can keep this recipe in its creamy state for younger babies or turn it into these baked bites. A lunch or side dish for little ones of all ages that they’ll enjoy feeding themselves and you’ll enjoy feeding them.
Tomato-Basil Polenta Bites
9 months + up
Makes 24 bites
1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes (about 3/4 of a pint)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
pinch of salt and pepper
2 cups water
1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
3/4 cup instant polenta
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, finely sliced
1/4 lb. fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 24 cubes
Preheat oven to 375 and grease a mini-muffin pan with cooking spray or oil.
Pulse tomatoes in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add tomatoes and sauté for 3-5 minutes until cooked through and softened. Add salt, pepper and vinegar. Set aside.
Meanwhile, bring water and broth to a boil in a small saucepot. Slowly whisk in polenta, continuously stirring for 3 minutes, until thick and creamy. Stir in parmesan, tomato mixture and basil. Stop here for younger babies. For bites continue…
Fill mini muffin cups with polenta. Top each with a mozzarella cube. Bake on middle rack of oven for approx. 30-35 minutes. Cool completely before removing from pan. Bites can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.