Baked Polenta with Kabocha Pumpkin, Greens, and Sage

26 03 2010

I love making polenta. It is easy and so versatile. If you make a big casserole of polenta, it can be made ahead and serves lots of guests. You really can’t go wrong. I had pumpkin and swiss chard and spinach to use up in my refrigerator so I came up with this dish. You could also use butternut squash and any braising greens you like. I added in a smoked gouda at the end which gave it quite a nice smoky flavor. My husband said it reminded him a little of bacon. Of course, if you want a milder flavor so that you can taste more of the sage, use shredded mozzarella instead. I wanted to feature EVOO’s Sage and Mushroom oil in this dish but I think the smoked cheese was too strong for it. I did roast the pumpkin in that oil and it gave off a great aroma. So I think I can refine this dish by taking out the smoky flavor and accenting more with the sage which goes so beautifully with winter squash.


1 small kabocha pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 bunch of sage, chopped

2 tbsp olive oil or EVOO Marketplace’s Sage and Mushroom Oil

1 bunch of Swiss chard, washed, stemmed and chopped

1 bunch of spinach, washed, stemmed and chopped

1 onion, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp olive oil

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 cups polenta, coarse ground cornmeal

6 1/4 cups vegetable stock or water

1 tsp sea salt

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup shredded smoked Gouda or shredded mozzarella

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Put the pumpkin cubes in a 12 x 9 inch glass baking dish. Drizzle olive oil over and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven until tender about 30 minutes. About halfway through the roasting process, stir in the chopped sage.

Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large saute pan. Add in the onion slices. Saute over medium high heat until onion begins to caramelize, stirring often. Then add in the garlic and continue to saute until onions are golden brown. Add in the chopped greens and saute until greens are wilted and released most of their liquid. Season with sea salt and pepper.

Bring the 6 1/4 cups of stock or water to a boil in a large saucepan. Whisk in the polenta by adding it in a steady stream while whisking constantly. Turn the heat to medium-low and continue to whisk the polenta until it thickens and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. This should take about 10 – 15 minutes. Stir in the shredded cheese, the Parmesan, the pumpkin pieces and stir to combine. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper.

Using the same glass baking dish you used for the pumpkin, spread half the polenta into the dish. Top it with the greens and onion mixture. Spread the remaining polenta over the top. If you like, drizzle a little olive oil over the top or EVOO Marketplace Sage and Mushroom oil.

You can make the recipe up to this point ahead of time. About an hour before you are ready to serve, put the polenta in a 375 degree oven and bake about 1 hour or until the top is golden. Then let it sit for about 15 minutes before serving. Slice it up and serve it on plates. An option is to serve it topped with a tomato sauce or sauteed mushrooms.




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