Holiday Feature

Cicchetti Polenta
With Onions and Sausage

Makes about 12 pieces, or 4 to 6 servings


Cicchetti Polenta For these cicchetti (Venetian bar snacks), the slice of polenta doubles as a cracker, much the way slabs of it replace bread in the mountains of the Alto Adige. The sausage, luganega, is a spicy specialty of Belluna, in the mountains. In Venice proper, a piece of grilled sardine, a grilled shrimp, or a morsel of meat or fried fish from dinner the day before might top the polenta. "You find that leftovers make fine cicchetti," Francesco says.


2 cups (500 ml) water
1/2 cup (90 g) yellow cornmeal for polenta
Salt to taste
1-1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, sliced thin
1 bay leaf
8 ounces (250 g) luganega sausage
   or 12 medium-size shrimp (prawns), shelled
Sprigs of flat-leaf (Italian) parsley


Bring the water to a simmer in a small saucepan. Gradually stir in the cornmeal and cook, stirring, about 15 minutes, until the mixture has thickened. Season with salt and stir in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.

Spread the cornmeal mixture to a thickness of 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) on a baking sheet and allow to cool.

Heat the remaining oil in a medium-size nonstick skillet. Add the onion and the bay leaf and cook over medium-low heat about 10 minutes, until the onion turns light gold. Stir in 2 tablespoons (30 ml) water, remove the bay leaf, and remove the skillet from the heat.

Grill the sausage until browned and cooked through. (If using shrimp, toss them with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil and grill them or sear briefly in a non-stick pan.)

To serve, cut the polenta into 2-inch (5-cm) circles with a glass or a biscuit cutter. Heat a grill, a nonstick skillet, or a griddle, and grill the polenta circles until they are warmed and lightly browned. Top each with some of the onion and a parsley leaf. Cut the sausage on a sharp diagonal into slices about 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) thick and place on top or, if desired, substitute the shrimp.

Recipe from:

Venetian Taste
Created by Adam D. Tihany
Recipes by Francesco Antonucci
Text by Florence Fabricant
Photographs by Peter Pioppo
Food Artist: Nir Adar
$40.00 (hardcover)
Abbeville Press Publishers
ISBN: 1-55859-548-1
Recipe reprinted by permission.


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This page created December 1998; modified November 2006