Roasted Root Vegetable Polenta Recipe

Like many great dishes, polenta originates from Italy. Like many , it is deceptively simple to make — but much harder to make really well. If you haven't tried it before, polenta is a particularly fine form of cornmeal that is cooked in liquid to create a deliciously thick and creamy, porridge-like meal, which can be consumed either savory or sweet depending on your additions. Originally considered to be a meal for the poor, slowly climbed its way through the ranks to be found in fine dining restaurants across the globe.

In this recipe, created by Tasting Table recipe developer , the polenta is cooked with milk and then mixed with roasted garlic cloves, Parmesan, butter, and black pepper to give it a real punch of cheesy garlicky flavor. The polenta is then served with a mixture of oven roasted root vegetables and finished off with toasted pine nuts, which pair well with the nutty flavor of the polenta. This dish makes a wonderfully different dinner option that's affordable and filling, not to mention packed full of hearty flavor.

Gather the ingredients for this roasted root vegetable polenta recipe

To begin this roasted root vegetable polenta recipe, first you will need to gather the ingredients. For the roasted vegetables, you will want parsnips, carrots, beetroot, butternut squash, garlic, dried thyme, olive oil, and salt and pepper. For the polenta, you'll use milk, polenta, butter, , black pepper, and, finally, toasted pine nuts to garnish the dish.

Step 1: Preheat the oven

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Step 2: Place the root vegetables in an oven tray

Add parsnips, carrots, beetroot, and butternut squash to a large roasting pan.

Step 3: Add the seasonings

Add whole garlic cloves, thyme, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.

Step 4: Roast, turning the root vegetables occasionally

Place into the oven and roast for 1 hour, turning occasionally, until vegetables are soft and caramelized at the edges.

Step 5: Heat up the milk

Meanwhile, about halfway through the roasting time, place the milk and salt in a large saucepan over medium heat.

Step 6: Add the polenta

When the milk is gently simmering, gradually pour in the polenta while whisking continuously to prevent clumping.

Step 7: Simmer the polenta

Cover the saucepan, reduce the heat to low, and allow the polenta to simmer gently for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Step 8: Remove the polenta from the heat

When the polenta is fluffy and thick, remove it from the heat.

Step 9: Mash the garlic cloves

Remove the roasted root vegetables from the oven, then transfer the garlic cloves to a plate and roughly mash with a fork.

Step 10: Add flavorings to the polenta

Mix the mashed garlic into the polenta, along with the butter, grated Parmesan, and black pepper.

Step 11: Serve the roasted root vegetable polenta

Serve polenta topped with roasted root vegetables and sprinkled with toasted pine nuts.

How can I change up this roasted root vegetable polenta recipe?

There are few dishes as simple or as flavorful as roasted vegetables, and they are a meal that can be enjoyed and adapted all year round. Due to their seasonal nature, the vegetables used for roasting in this recipe are easily substituted, and changing them up can add so much variety to this dish. In the height of summer, you might like to move away from root vegetables and lean into more easily available produce like tomatoes, eggplant, and zucchini for a fresh and lighter take.

If you don't have any milk in the house, or perhaps you are lactose intolerant, the milk used to cook the polenta can be swapped either with your preferred stock, or, alternatively, it can simply be cooked using water. It might be slightly less creamy, but the flavorful additions of garlic, Parmesan, and butter add a lot by themselves. And if you would like a bit more variety with the polenta, we recommend substituting the Parmesan for some other strongly flavored cheese; Gruyère or cheddar are both great options.

How can I serve roasted root vegetable polenta?

This roasted root vegetable polenta dish is great when enjoyed as a meal in its own right, or it can be served with a simple side of greens such as kale or broccoli. Alternatively, it makes a great side offering that pairs well with a protein. Due to the hearty and well flavored components to this dish, we recommend serving it alongside chicken thighs, beef, or lamb: Lighter meats or fish may be overpowered by the other ingredients.

As for serving leftovers, any extra polenta can be simply reheated, though it may need a little help with some more liquid and butter to get it back to its wonderfully creamy state, or it can be cooked into a variety of different delicious dishes. As it cools, this cornmeal product thickens from a porridge consistency into a soft solid state, which means you can easily  by slicing it into wedges and frying it in butter. Alternatively, it makes for a great naturally gluten-free pizza base!