A simple, cozy vegetarian dish with creamy, buttery polenta topped with ratatouille-style balsamic and herb-roasted vegetables.
Do you ever notice that your appetite changes right along with the seasons?
A bowl of creamy, warming parmesan polenta is very craveable whenever that fall feeling hits.
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.
It’s basically like the most delicious bowl of porridge you can eat for dinner.
Along with a generous amount of colorful balsamic roasted vegetables served on top, there’s not much better.
More recipes with roasted vegetables:
- Spice-Roasted Carrots with Whipped Feta
- Harvest Root Vegetable Salad with Chimichurri
- Roasted Squash Rigatoni Pasta with Greens
How to make parmesan polenta the easy way
- 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.
- 2 bell peppers in assorted colors, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
- 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 extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or rosemary
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup coarse cornmeal
- 1 – 2 teaspoons salt
- ½ cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
- 4 tablespoons butter
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Combine the peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, onion, olive oil and ½ teaspoon 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, thyme and balsamic vinegar.
- Meanwhile, 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.
- Serve the warm polenta in bowls with the roasted vegetables and their juices over the top; sprinkle with additional cheese if you like.
Choose your heaviest saucepan or enameled cast iron pot and turn the heat for best results with minimal stirring.
Recipe updated August 2018
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 422 Total Fat: 24g Saturated Fat: 10g Trans Fat: 1g Unsaturated Fat: 11g Cholesterol: 41mg Sodium: 674mg Carbohydrates: 49g Fiber: 5g Sugar: 17g Protein: 9g
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Hi there! I’m Karen, a mother of two and a professionally trained cook certified in holistic nutrition.
Have a question or feedback? Get in touch or leave me a comment below — I love hearing from you!