My Cauliflower Polenta is a delicious and hearty side dish. Adding riced cauliflower to polenta is a great way to lighten up this classic Italian dish and get a boost of nutrient-rich veggies!
You may have noticed cauliflower recipes popping up everywhere these days. Whether it’s cauliflower rice, cauliflower bread, cauliflower pizza, or even cauliflower steak, the humble cauliflower has become one of the hottest recent culinary trends.
Cauliflower- so popular and healthy!
Why is cauliflower so popular? For starters, it's packed with nutrients! It's also extremely versatile and can be worked into a wide variety of dishes.
It can be baked and coated with delicious sauces like in my Crispy Baked Sweet and Sour Cauliflower. You can even roast it whole in the oven like in my Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Marcona Almond Pesto.
Cauliflower can be also ground up and served as a healthy, low calorie, low carb substitute for white rice. Try my Cheesy Turkey and Cauliflower Rice Taco Skillet. It can even be made into a flour and used in gluten-free pizza and bread recipes like my Cauliflower Cheesy Bread.
Riced cauliflower is a great option if you’re watching your carbs or even if you’re just trying to incorporate more veggies into your diet and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Buying riced cauliflower at the grocery store
I’m always looking for easy, convenient ways to incorporate more vegetables into my family’s meals. I used to make homemade cauliflower "rice" all the time from a head of cauliflower. But I'm so happy that nowadays you can buy many different types of cauliflower rice at the grocery store.
You can find cauliflower rice in the produce department or the freezer section of your grocery store. There are also some brands of shelf-stable riced cauliflower that you may find in the canned vegetable aisle.
Many of these products are made with 100% vegetables and no added sauce or seasoning. They can be added to your recipes for a quick boost of nutrient-rich veggies. And they'll save you the trouble of making your own riced vegetables. On a busy weeknight, who really wants to pull their food processor out of the cabinet, right?
I decided to use a riced cauliflower and sweet potato blend in a polenta dish as a way to lighten it up and add some healthy vegetables.
What is polenta?
If you’re not familiar with polenta, it’s an Italian dish of cooked cornmeal. Polenta can be cooked and served like a hot porridge similar to Southern-style grits. It can also be cooled and cut into squares. The squares can then be baked, grilled or fried.
Polenta is sold in grocery stores in a box and will be labeled "polenta" or "instant polenta." It also comes pre-cooked in a tube that can be sliced. If you can’t find it, you can buy cornmeal.
How to make cauliflower polenta
I like to cook my polenta in chicken or vegetable broth to infuse it with lots of flavor. As it cooks, it absorbs the liquid. When it's done, the consistency should be like a thick porridge. The polenta will continue to thicken as it cools.
For my cauliflower polenta, I add the riced cauliflower to the broth so that it cooks along with the polenta. Normally I would use about 1 cup of polenta for 4 servings but because the vegetables really bulk up this dish, I only use ½ cup. This lightens the dish up considerably.
The riced cauliflower retains a slight bite that adds a pleasant texture to the final dish.
I like to finish my Cauliflower Polenta with a bit of Parmesan and mascarpone cheese. The Parmesan adds a nice salty bite and the mascarpone makes it rich and creamy.
Mascarpone is an Italian cream cheese that's probably best known for its use in traditional desserts like tiramisu. If you can’t find it, you can substitute cream cheese or a little butter.
What to serve with this dish
You can serve the Cauliflower Polenta with stews or braised dishes like Chicken Cacciatore, Beef Stew or braised short ribs. It's also delicious with Tilapia Piccata. It's perfect for soaking up sauces.
But sometimes simple is best. A warm bowl of polenta topped with some homemade marinara sauce, a dollop of mascarpone and some freshly grated Parmesan cheese- yum! It's comfort food at its best.
Cauliflower polenta can be stored in the fridge for up to 3-5 days. To reheat, heat it in the microwave or on the stove. Add a little water or milk as needed until you get a creamy consistency.
More tasty Italian recipes
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- 3 cups reduced sodium vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 bag (12 oz) frozen riced cauliflower (I used a cauliflower and sweet potato blend)
- ½ cup polenta or cornmeal
- 3 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper
- Optional toppings: marinara sauce, grated Parmesan cheese, mascarpone cheese
- Pour the broth and the vegetables into a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, pour the polenta in slowly, whisking continuously to prevent lumps. Lower the heat to a low simmer and simmer for 15-20 minutes until cooked.
- Stir in the mascarpone and Parmesan cheeses. Season the dish with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve polenta with toppings of your choice.