Food & Drink

Lemony Strawberry Polenta Cake

Grits’ Italian cousin and seasonal bounty make a dish ripe for summertime

Photo: Eva Kolenko

Jeanine Donofrio wants to leave our ideas of “good food” and “bad food” behind and instead turn to a different category: “feel-good food.” To her, this means recipes that satisfy a craving, are fun to make, and use seasonal ingredients. The Texas recipe blogger imagines this lemony polenta cake from her newest cookbook, Love and Lemons: Simple Feel Good Food, at a sunny summer gathering. “Topped with toasted almonds and ruby red strawberries, it looks impressive, but it’s delightfully simple to make,” Donofrio writes. “The moist, tender cake is wonderful on its own, but you could certainly dress it up more with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dusting of powdered sugar.”

For more feel-good food, see Donofrio’s recipes for Savory Vegetable Cabbage Pancakes and Tortellini Soup with Lemon Peel Broth

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  • Lemony Strawberry Polenta Cake (Yield: 8 servings)

    • 1 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled

    • ½ cup medium-grind cornmeal, spooned and leveled

    • 2 tsp. baking powder

    • ¾ tsp. sea salt

    • ½ cup cane sugar

    • 1 tbsp. lemon zest

    • ¾ cup whole-milk Greek yogurt

    • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the pan

    • 2 large eggs

    • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

    • ½ tsp. almond extract

    • 1½ cups small strawberries, halved

    • ¼ cup sliced almonds


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil a 9-inch round cake pan and line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.

  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt.

  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and lemon zest. Add the yogurt, olive oil, eggs, vanilla, and almond extract and whisk to combine.

  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Don’t overmix.

  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and top with the strawberries and almonds. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely before slicing and serving.

Excerpted from Love and Lemons: Simple Feel Good Food. Copyright © 2023 by Jeanine Donofrio. Published by Avery, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.