Oven-Baked Cheese Polenta Balls (Bulz) With Yogurt and Roasted Tomatoes

June 18, 2020 Updated: June 24, 2020

Polenta can’t get any more original than this. In Transylvania, where my mom comes from, bulz is made in the oven, but in the south, it is flattened and griddled like a patty. Being a shepherd’s meal, the polenta balls are often thrown into the embers of an open fire, especially when dinners are enjoyed in the cool air of summer evenings. I dare you to try this next time you are having a barbecue—you can wrap the balls in aluminum foil, if you wish.

Serves 6 

  • 1 1/2 cups (9 ounces) coarse polenta
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 ounces Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 cup (9 ounces) plain yogurt
  • 5 ounces hard sheep or goat cheese, grated
  • 1 1/2 cups (9 ounces) cherry tomatoes
  • Olive oil, for roasting

To serve: 

  • Scant 1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) plain yogurt

Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a large pan over high heat. Add the polenta, butter, and salt, whisking quickly to avoid any lumps forming. Turn the heat down to medium and keep whisking for 5 minutes, until the polenta thickens considerably. Add the cheddar cheese and yogurt, mix briefly, then spread the hot polenta onto a baking sheet. Leave to cool for around 20 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. 

Using wet hands, take 1/2 cup (2 ounces) of polenta and flatten it in your palm. Add a little sheep or goat cheese in the middle and close your hand, rolling the polenta into a ball—you will get confident after the first one—and place onto a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining polenta. Bake for 25–30 minutes until the balls are golden and crisp on the outside.

Meanwhile, place the cherry tomatoes onto a third baking sheet, drizzle with oil, and roast for 15–20 minutes. 

Serve the bulz straight from the oven with the roasted cherry tomatoes and a dollop of yogurt.

Recipes reprinted with permission from “Carpathia: Food from the Heart of Romania” by Irina Georgescu. Published by Interlink Publishing.