Creamy Polenta with Butternut Squash and Spinach

polenta with butternut squash and spinachI can’t think of a better dish for a cold wintery night. Creamy, cheesey, polenta laced with roasted butternut squash and chopped spinach. Guaranteed to warm you up from the inside out. Comfort food in the most delicious way!
Christmas wreath Chicago received it’s first snow yesterday and with temperatures predicted mostly in the teens all week the reality of winter is in full force, so it’s comfort foods that are calling my name.polenta with spinach and butternut squash Hearty enough to eat alone or with a nice green salad or it’s just plain wonderful as a side dish next to baked chicken or roasted pork.polenta with sausage and peppers Have leftovers? No problem, you can easily morph your leftover butternut squash polenta into another meal by topping it with chunks of Italian sausage and roasted peppers, this is crazy good!

butternut squash polenta with sausage and peppersbutternut squash polenta with poached egg But if all you have left is just a teeny bit, no worries, you can mold it into a small ramekin, warm it up, unmold and plop a cooked egg on the top, my favorite!

Creamy Polenta with Butternut Squash and Spinach
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into small dice and pre-roasted
  • 1 cup, instant style polenta
  • ¾ cup chopped fresh spinach
  • ½ cup or so grated parmesan or romano cheese
  • 2 cups chicken broth, homemade or low sodium store bought
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • extra olive oil for drizzling
  1. Roast squash at 400 degrees on a baking sheet drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast around 15 minutes or until slightly golden. Set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan add the broth, water, 1 tablespoon of butter, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper, bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to low and slowly start whisking in the polenta, keep whisking so as not to get lumps, it will bubble and squirt, be careful!
  4. Switch over to a wooden spoon and keep stirring until thickened, remove from heat.
  5. Fold in the grated cheese, the spinach and the butternut squash, drizzling more olive oil all over the top.
  6. Serve immediately.
  7. Leftover polenta can be warmed up the next day by adding more water or broth, or leftovers can be molded into ramekins.

Polenta with Spicy Sausage and Beans, and a Black Pepper Focaccia!!

Comfort food doesn’t have to take all day, this meal was cooked up in no time using just a few staples that I always have stocked in my pantry. With polenta that cooks up in 5 minutes, canned beans, and some good canned tomatoes, this could easily be done in minutes for a nice midweek meal!

Brown up your Italian sausage (either spicy or mild) in a large saute pan in a little olive oil till it’s crispy, add some fresh crushed garlic, cook till golden, now add some good canned tomatoes, I love Carmelina brand for this, they have a San Marzano Italian cherry tomato in juice, that hold their shape, and are so sweet! Simmer with the sausage till cooked through.

Now add some rinsed and drained beans of your choice, along with some fresh snipped herbs. Cook until all the flavors infuse. Start your quick polenta in another pan, and when its done, layer your sausage and beans on top.

For years my family has loved a black pepper focaccia that I would always pick up at my favorite Italian store, that has recently closed after being in business for over 30 years! I’m so sad! We miss you, D’ Andrea’s!

Anyway, this is my quickie version. Take some pizza dough, either store bought or homemade.

Roll it out, but keep it thick, drizzle with olive oil, and put lots of crushed black pepper all over. Make your dimples on top and push the pepper into the dough. You can leave it just like that, or in this case I added Kalamata olives and some snipped rosemary to it. Bake 400, till nice and golden, but still soft like a focaccia.

Buon Appetito, and Have A Great Weekend!!