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A simple, cozy vegetarian dish with creamy, buttery polenta topped with ratatouille-style balsamic and herb-roasted vegetables.
This easy vegetarian dish is basically the most delicious bowl of porridge you can eat for dinner.
Along with a generous amount of colorful balsamic roasted vegetables (that are also sooo good layered into homemade vegetable lasagna), there’s not much better!
If you’ve never made polenta before, you may want to check out this step-by-step post for how to make creamy polenta. A bowl of creamy, warming parmesan polenta is very crave-able whenever that fall feeling hits.
Do you ever notice that your appetite changes right along with the seasons? You know when those last days of summer just seem different, starting with the first step outside in the morning.
Maybe there’s a chill in the air that wasn’t there the day before, or the leaves on familiar trees have an edge of gold or crimson.
Whatever triggers that transition — even if it has nothing to do with the weather — when cozy comfort food is called for, you can count on polenta to satisfy.
Ingredients you need for the recipe
- 2 colorful bell peppers
- 1 small eggplant
- 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes,
- 3 small zucchini
- ½ red onion
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Garlic cloves
- Crushed red chili flakes
- Fresh thyme or rosemary
- Balsamic vinegar
- Coarse cornmeal (polenta)
- Fresh Parmesan cheese
How to make Parmesan polenta
- Get coarse cornmeal to make polenta, not the more finely ground corn flour.
- To make this creamy parmesan polenta without constant stirring, first choose a heavy-duty saucepan or Dutch oven. One that has 3 or 4 quarts capacity is ideal. A sturdy pan will retain heat better, allowing the thickened polenta to cook at a low temperature without sticking or scorching.
- Bring the water to a boil, then gradually add the cornmeal in a thin stream — you can do this either by pouring it out of a small bowl or measuring cup with a spout or with your hands, letting the grain fall through your fingers. Pour in the polenta with one hand while whisking it into the water with the other (this your chance to practice hand-eye coordination).
- Once all the cornmeal is in the pan, it will almost immediately start to thicken and boil. This is when you turn the heat down as low as your stove will go. Stir the polenta once or twice, then cover the pan and let it cook mostly undisturbed for 20 – 3o minutes. Check on it and stir the polenta once or twice during that time.
When I make polenta, I like to be generous with the butter and parmesan cheese. It’s a perfect neutral canvas for cheesy, creamy additions.
How to reheat polenta:
Leftover polenta is easily reheated:
- In a saucepan, combine 2 – 3 tablespoons liquid for each 1 cup of polenta.
- Liquid can be milk, cream, broth water or a mixture.
- Stir to break up the clumps, cover the pan and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring once or twice.
- Add additional butter, cheese, salt and pepper to taste.
More recipes with roasted vegetables:
- Spice-Roasted Carrots with Whipped Feta
- Harvest Root Vegetable Salad with Chimichurri
- Roasted Squash Rigatoni Pasta with Greens
- Mediterranean Roast Vegetable Salad
Parmesan Polenta with Roasted Vegetables
For the roasted vegetables:
- 2 bell peppers in assorted colors, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 small eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes (1-1/2 cups)
- 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
- 3 small or 2 medium-sized zucchini, cut into 1-inch chunks
- ½ red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or rosemary
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
For the polenta:
- 1 cup (160 g) coarse cornmeal
- 1-2 teaspoons salt
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 4 tablespoons (60 g) butter
- Preheat the oven to 425 (220C) degrees.
Roast the vegetables
- Combine the peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, onion, olive oil and the salt on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast until beginning to soften and turn brown, 20-25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and stir in the garlic, chili, thyme and balsamic vinegar.
Make the polenta
- Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a heavy-duty sauce pan or small Dutch oven. Stir in 1 teaspoon salt. Gradually sprinkle the polenta into the pan while whisking at the same time. Turn the heat to a very low simmer, cover and continue to cook the polenta for 25-30 minutes, until it's thick, fluffy and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Stir occasionally so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. When it's done remove from the heat and stir in the cheese, butter and additional salt to taste, if needed.
- Spoon the warm polenta into bowls and put some of the roasted vegetables and the pan juice over each serving. Sprinkle with additional cheese, if you like.
Karen’s Notes and Tips
- If you don’t have a Dutch oven or or enameled cast iron pot, choose your heaviest saucepan and turn the heat to low for best results with minimal stirring.
- Storing leftovers or to make ahead: You can refrigerate the polenta and vegetables up to a week, and reheat for about 20 minutes at 350 (175C) degrees. Stir in a little more liquid to the polenta if it’s too thick.
- You might also like How To Make Creamy Parmesan Polenta