Grilled Polenta Torta with Tillamook Mozzarella Cheese – and an Anniversary Celebration

The Tillamook Cheese Factory
Celebrating 100 years of Excellence

This year, 2009, is the 100th year anniversary of the Tillamook Cheese Factory. The creamery association began in 1909 with a few dairy farmers in Tillamook, Oregon, and today is an American favorite. Cheese is made today using the same recipe that cheesemakers used when the company was founded.

The ship that can be seen on the Tillamook Cheese label is the Morning Star of Tillamook, built in 1854 by farmers who banded together to transport butter from Tillamook County to Portland. A cheese from the creamery won it’s first award at the 1904 St. Louis Fair.

Grilled Polenta Torta with Tillamook Mozzarella Cheese


  • 1/2 tube (abour 9 ounces) pre-cooked polenta cut into 12 slices (1/4 inch thick)
  • 1 small eggplant, cut into 8 slices (1/4 in thick)
  • 2 medium tomatoes, cut into 8 slices (1/4 inch thick)
  • 4 ounces Tillamook Mozzarella Cheese, cut into 8 thin slices
  • 1/4 cup pesto
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Preheat grill pan that has been brushed with oil to medium high.

Lightly brush both sides of eggplant with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place eggplant on the grill pan and cook approximately 3 minutes per side or until soft. Remove from pan.

To assemble tortas: spread 1-1/2 tablespoons pesto on a slice of polenta, top with one slice eggplant, one tomato slice and one slice of cheese. Repeat to make a second layer and finish with a third slice of polenta on top. Secure with a small skewer through the center of torta. Repeat with remaining ingredients to make 4 tortas.

To grill: lightly brush preheated grill pan with oil and heat pan to medium heat. Place tortas upright on preheated pan, cover with foil and cook for about 4-5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Serve with a salad of arugula dressed with olive oil, sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

Cook’s Note: This is a beautiful and delicious appetizer or vegetarian entree. It would be excellent served with grilled chicken or Italian sausages. In addition to grilling the eggplant I grilled 4 slices of polenta to crisp it up a bit and add grill marks to the top slices. I also added a little marinara sauce when I plated the tortas.

The Tillamook Cheese Cookbook

The Grilled Polenta recipe can be found in the newly released Tillamook Cheese Cookbook, a 225 page book filled with wonderful recipes and over 150 historical photos of the cheese factory and their home in Tillamook County. Visit their website to learn more about their history and how cheese is made. You can even join the Tillamook Cheese Fan Club where you can get a tour of the factory, learn about the events that celebrate the company’s anniversary, get lots of wonderful recipes using Tillamook Cheese products, and shop online. And you can purchase their cookbooks there also.

Permission to reprint recipes and images from The Tillamook Cheese Cookbook given by Tillamook County Creamery Association – farmer-owned since 1909.


  1. Foley says

    What an educational post… at least for me!!
    I’ve never worked with polenta, I may have to check it out..your dish sounds so good, and I like the grill marks on the top polenta for presentation..GREAT PHOTO!!

  2. Susan says

    What a wonderful informative post. I always get the Tillamook IF available. This recipe is wonderful. Can taste it now!!

  3. Joie de vivre says

    Fun, fun, fun, and yummy! We must live somewhat close to eachother. Tillamook is about a 3-4 hour drive.

  4. Barbara Bakes says

    I thought they were cheeseburgers at first! What an interesting combination of flavors. I never would have thought of it, but it looks really yummy!

  5. janice_phil says

    hmmmmmm..taste so good….great blog great page with amazing great contents. very interesting…

  6. Cathy says

    Hi Everybody – Thanks so much for coming to visit. These little tortas are so easy to put together and are so tasty.

    Hope you all have the chance to visit the Tillamook Creamery someday.

  7. Lisa says

    That looks fabulous! Polenta is one of my favorite foods (though I would usually call it grits or grits cakes.) It is simple to make your own. The torta sounds great and is so pretty. I will definitely experiment with this recipe!

  8. Cathy says

    Hi Lisa – This recipe is from their cookbook and is so quick and easy to put together. All kinds of little variations are possible. Please let me know what you come up with.

  9. SusanQ says

    We are fortunate that a local high-end grocer sells it here. What a delightful-sounding recipe and your photo is top-notch!

  10. Paula says

    Oh my gosh, I had no idea that Tillamook creamery was celebrating it’s 100th year! I really have to try your recipe. We eat polenta regularly, but I’ve never had this preparation and it’s just lovely! YUM!

  11. once in a blue moon... says

    great post kathy, this is the cheese i was raised on~

    you know i love your little sliders, so cute!

  12. Acorn Cottage says

    A Cheese cookbook? I may have died and gone to heaven! Your recipe, as always, looks scrumptious! Can’t wait to try it.

  13. Neas Nuttiness says

    This was a really fun post. This is a recipe that I will have to try out. I love polenta, but I never make it…so now I’m going to have to give it a try!

  14. Proud Italian Cook says

    Hi Cathy, We’ve been to Tillamook
    Cheese, great place! I absolutely love this polenta torta, it looks so good!!

  15. Pam says

    I never get tired of the Tillamook cheese factory – we visit whenever we are in Tillamook.

    Your polenta torta is BEAUTIFUL. What a stunning presentation.

    You had snow this morning but we had hail storms all throughout the day. Crazy weather!

  16. ~Carole says

    Hi Kathy,

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. Yours is a wonderful blog; I especially like the title. :-)

    Have a great day!

  17. Mari at Once Upon a Plate says

    Hey Cathy, You’ve done Tillamook Creamery proud ~ they should gift you with some of their fabulous products.

    The Tillamook Creamery evokes very sweet memories for me~ so naturally I use their products more than any other. :)

    Great post, and I’m quite sure the cookbook will find a way to my house! xo~m.

  18. Camille says

    We can’t get Tilamook here in Canada but since Vancouver is just a skip from the border, everytime I’m in Bellingham I go to Costco for Tilamook Extra Sharp Vintage White Cheddar…absolutely divine stuff!!!!

  19. Jake Ten Pas says

    What a deliciously comprehensive post. A little history, a book recommendation and a recipe, to boot! What more could we ask for? Thanks so much for getting the word out about Tillamook’s centennial celebration. We made your entry our Post of the Day at
    Jake Ten Pas
    Tillamook Cheese Fan Club

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