I use smoked cheese to get a deep flavour and a gorgeous, melting texture, but any well-flavoured cheese will work here. Serves four.
375ml vegetable stock
60g quick polenta
60g scamorza affumicata, grated
Salt and black pepper
350g fresh plum tomatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
½ medium onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 pinch chilli flakes
¼ tsp caster sugar
2 tbsp chopped parsley (optional)
Vegetable oil, for frying
Line a shallow tray with clingfilm. In a small pan, bring the stock to a boil, then slowly pour in the polenta, stirring all the while with a wooden spoon, and cook, still stirring, over a gentle flame for five minutes. Remove from the heat, mix in the butter and cheese, and season to taste. Once the cheese and butter have melted into the mix, transfer the polenta to the lined tray. Use a wet spatula to smooth and level it out into an even layer about 1.5cm deep. Cover with clingfilm, leave to cool down, then chill for at least 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, place a large, nonstick frying pan on a high flame. Once hot, add the tomatoes and leave on high heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally – the skins need to blacken, so don't take off the heat too early. Transfer to a bowl and break up the tomatoes with a spoon. Pick out and discard the skins.
Heat the olive oil in a small pan, add the onion and cook on medium heat for three minutes, to soften. Add the onion and its oil to the tomatoes, then stir in the garlic, chilli, sugar and salt to taste. Leave to come to room temperature, then stir in the parsley, if using.
When the polenta is set, turn it out of the tray and cut into 1.5cm thick and 6cm long chips. Fill a medium saucepan with enough vegetable oil to come 2cm up the sides and heat. Toss the chips in flour until well coated, shake off any excess and carefully place in the hot oil – don't fry too many at a time, so do them in batches. Fry for three minutes, until golden-brown, then transfer to a kitchen towel to drain off excess oil.
Serve hot with the sauce spooned on top or in a bowl on the side.
• Yotam Ottolenghi is chef/patron of Ottolenghi.