It all started in the 1500s when corn, commonly referred to as maize by the Venetians, set foot in the now-Italian region, from the New World.
After several trials, the Romans and Italians developed the versatile culinary staple, polenta, by grinding and boiling corn.
Aside from that, this historically significant dish may have found itself in your fridge for a while now.
Rather than let it go to waste, you can repurpose it into multiple dishes, whether you’re looking to make an appetizer, main meal, or even dessert.
That being said, stick around to learn more about what to do with leftover polenta.
1. Leftover Polenta with Mushrooms
For all you mushroom lovers out there, this recipe is for you.
To prepare your mushroom topping, boil and chop it while reserving its stock.
Next, saute the mushrooms in a high-heat pan and add your herbs and minced garlic.
Then, pour over the previously made stock along with some butter and cream.
Finally, plate your plain polenta and nestle in your delicious and rich sauced mushrooms for a hearty dinner.
2. Leftover Polenta Fries
There’s nothing harder than convincing your picky-eater kids to eat healthy meals.
Luckily, this fries twist on your leftover polenta can be your answer.
Plus, it’s crazy easy to create this snack.
All you have to do is spread your cooked polenta in a dish, then put it in the fridge until it hardens.
Next, slice the polenta into fries, cover it with olive oil, and mix in your fresh herbal seasoning.
Lastly, arrange them on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
They’ll come out of the oven looking incredibly appetizing and your kids will be begging you to make them every day.
3. Fried Leftover Polenta
Whether you’re newly vegan or vegetarian, fried leftover polenta could help you stay your course.
To make this fry-up, spread the cooked polenta in a dish, refrigerate it, then cut it into cubed pieces – see all the steps here!
Plop your cubed polentas in your oil and take them out until they become golden brown.
You can serve this with thinly sliced veggies, cheese, or check out our list of what to serve with polenta ideas!
4. Leftover Polenta with Italian Sausage
Looking to indulge yourself in a savory meal?
Well, look no further.
You’ve got to try this Italian sausage-topped polenta dish.
To create it, the polenta first needs to be heated and mixed with butter and cheese, namely, cheddar, Asiago, and parmesan.
Then, for your meat topping, fry some onions and garlic, add your ground meat, and break it apart.
Afterward, season it to your liking and layer the meat mix on top of your steaming cheesy polenta.
5. Leftover Polenta with Fig Jam
Although most polenta dishes are savory, you can go with the sweet route, especially if you’re constantly developing a sweet tooth like me.
To create this decadent dish, spread your polenta in a dish and refrigerate it.
Get some heart-shaped cookie cutters and cut up as many pieces as you want.
Fry them up on a skillet and, finally, adorn each heart with a colorful dot of fig jam.
These crispy delights are perfect for your significant other on Valentine’s Day.
6. Margherita Style Leftover Polenta
Craving pizza, but still on that diet?
These Margherita-style polenta dishes are a Godsend.
If you’re also wondering what to make with leftover polenta in a pinch, then the pizza polenta is a must-try.
To start, simply place your polenta in a dish, and spread a layer of marinara sauce and basil leaves.
Then arrange your mozzarella pieces over the greens and bake the dish until it’s all mixed and melted together.
Trust me, a slice of this and your cravings are in the past.
7. Classic Italian Leftover Polenta
Going back to polenta’s Italian roots, we’re exploring a classic recipe.
This buttery cheesy polenta will have you asking for seconds and thirds.
To create this traditional Italian masterpiece, heat up your leftover polenta and add olive oil, diced onion, and minced garlic.
Finally, incorporate your main ingredient, the parmesan cheese.
Remember to use a generous hand with the parmesan.
Add your butter and you’ll be left with a perfect cozy meal for any rainy day.
8. Leftover Polenta Casserole
Whether you’re hosting a dinner or serving for a potluck, this leftover polenta casserole can save you some time.
This casserole calls for reheating your polenta and adding steak seasoning along with a hefty dose of cheese.
Next, spread the mixture in a casserole dish and add a layer of stir-fried ground beef, zucchini, and onion.
Dust on some parmesan cheese and everyone will be raving about your hearty meal for days.
9. Leftover Polenta Lasagna
If you’re looking for complex flavors and a more elaborate creation from your leftover polenta, then this lasagna might be your best bet.
You’ll want to prepare three main components, the polenta, red sauce, and the veggie layer.
For the polenta layer, you’ll just need to spread it in a dish, refrigerate it, then cut it into squares.
The red sauce blends tomatoes, roasted red pepper, and seasoning.
Meanwhile, the veggie component is made of sauteed mushrooms, onions, and garlic.
Once everything is layered with a ricotta filling and mozzarella top and baked, the whole dish will be devoured in a single day.
10. Leftover Polenta Cakes
For a Mexican take on your leftover polenta, I’d suggest trying these mini breakfast polenta cakes.
All you need to do is refrigerate, then cut the polenta into circles.
Then, pan-fry each one until golden brown and plate it with the rest of your breakfast.
Top it off with a drizzle of maple syrup and a sprinkle of cinnamon for a spicy kick.
The best part is that you can prepare the chilled polenta circles beforehand for an easy everyday breakfast for your kids.
11. Leftover Polenta with Spinach
Not only does this leftover polenta recipe pack some umami flavor but it’s also loaded with nutritious content from the spinach and offers a low-calorie meal.
Luckily, this meal can be prepared with ease since you just need to reheat the polenta.
Then, incorporate a bit of milk, spinach, and parmesan cheese.
Once everything is mixed well together, you can season the meal to your liking by using some fragrant herbs or flavorful turmeric and cumin.
12. Leftover Polenta Croutons
If you have a relatively small portion of polenta left, where you can’t exactly make a main dish, then this crouton recipe is perfect.
You only need to cut up chilled polenta into mini cubes and pan-fry them until they become slightly brown.
Toss them in your salad and you’ve got an extra crunch factor.
You can even eat these alone as a little low-calorie snack throughout the day.
13. Leftover Curry Polenta
If you’re all about spice, then you can add some Indian cuisine elements to your leftover polenta ideas.
To do so, you can create a simple potato curry and add it on top of your triangle-sliced grilled polenta.
It can be any kind of curry, such as lamb, chicken, lentil, and more.
Overall, this is an ideal option to go for if you have curry leftovers.
14. Stir-Fry Leftover Polenta
If you want to add more depth in flavor to your polenta, I suggest giving this stir-fry recipe a go.
You’ll want to slice the chilled polenta into cuboid pieces and in a pan, fry them with some soy sauce, honey, and sesame oil.
You can then add your choice of veggies such as carrots, broccoli, and green beans.
Once your stir-fry is ready, I recommend plating it with a bowl of steamed rice to seal the deal on this Asian-inspired dish.
15. Italian-Style Leftover Polenta
Whether as an appetizer or snack, you can easily create this Italian-style leftover polenta using three ingredients.
First off, cut your chilled polenta into a circle.
Top it off with a piece of mozzarella, fried bacon bits, and a couple of slices of tomato.
You’ll create a perfect bite bursting with dense flavor from the mozzarella and a slight crunch from the bacon bits.
How Long Can Polenta Last in the Fridge?
Polenta leftovers can last up to five days when stored properly in the fridge.
Otherwise, it can easily go bad when exposed.
I suggest giving the leftover polenta a whiff before using it, in case it has gone bad.
Besides that, if your polenta is incorporated with dairy ingredients like milk or cheese, then its shelf life usually shortens to about three to four days.
How to Store Leftover Polenta?
Leftover polenta recipes tend to dry up quickly if left improperly stored.
For this reason, the Italian staple needs to be fully covered with a towel plus plastic wrap and placed in an air-tight container.
Alternatively, you can vacuum seal the polenta.
Be sure to avoid aluminum covers since they’re ineffective at keeping your leftover polenta fresh.
Before doing all this, be sure to let the polenta cool down to avoid bacterial growth.
How to Reheat Leftover Polenta?
If you want to revive your polenta, you can break it apart into several pieces in your blender.
Then, in between pulses, pour in a few scoops of hot water.
Another method includes reheating it in your pot by adding water or stock.
You can also reheat the leftover polenta in a microwave on a low-heat setting.
Once it’s well-heated, whisk it so it can regain its original fluffy texture back.
15 No-Fuss Leftover Polenta Recipes
- Leftover Polenta with Mushrooms
- Polenta Fries
- Fried Leftover Polenta
- Leftover Polenta with Italian Sausage
- Polenta with Fig Jam
- Margherita Style Leftover Polenta
- Classic Italian Leftover Polenta
- Leftover Polenta Casserole
- Tasty Polenta Lasagna
- Polenta Cakes
- Unami Polenta with Spinach
- Leftover Polenta Croutons
- Curry Polenta
- Stir-Fry Leftover Polenta
- Italian-Style Polenta
- Choose your desired leftover polenta recipe.
- Gather and organize needed ingredients.
- Create a tasty leftover polenta recipe to complete your meal!