Chef Elijah Safford of Aceq, in Arroyo Seco, calls this a perfect dish for the holiday season, one that’s easy to make vegan and/or gluten-free. Serve it as a snack, appetizer, side dish, or main course.

16 cups water

4 cups polenta (cornmeal)

1 teaspoon white vinegar

2 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1 teaspoon dried oregano

3 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

Choose a few of these topping options—or some of your family’s favorites.

1 cup salsa

1 cup New Mexico green chile, roasted, peeled, seeded, and chopped

1 cup seasoned black beans, canned or homemade

1 cup sautéed onions

1 cup sautéed red bell peppers

1 cup chopped scallions

2 cups ground bison, browned

2 cups sausage or chorizo, crumbled and browned

Serves 12

  1. Bring the water to a boil in a large pot. Slowly whisk in polenta and keep a close eye on the mixture. Stir continuously with a whisk to avoid lumps. Once polenta becomes thick and pulls away from the sides of the pot (about 20 minutes), reduce heat to low and stir in all the seasonings.
  2. Pour polenta into a buttered 3-quart Pyrex baking pan. Spread evenly in the dish and let cool in the fridge, covered, for roughly 2 hours or until cold to the touch. Now you have the base for your tartine.
  3. Top with the cheese and bake in the oven at 350° until the cheese is melted and bubbly and the center of the polenta is hot, about 30 minutes.
  4. Add your toppings of choice, cut into squares, and serve.

Read more: This recipe originally appeared in "Explore New Holiday Flavors" by Chef Johnny Vee.