Soft parmesan polenta with roast balsamic vegetables

Soft polenta with roasted vegetables.
Soft polenta with roasted vegetables. Photo: Murdoch Books

Polenta often takes the place of pasta, even bread, in the north of Italy. It can be served soft, as here, or allowed to set, then grilled, baked or fried. You could also serve this polenta with poached eggs and chargrilled asparagus, mixed pan-fried mushrooms or as a side for osso bucco or a lamb shank casserole.


2 brown onions, each cut into 8 wedges

2 red capsicums, seeded and cut into rough 5cm pieces

2 zucchinis, trimmed and cut on an angle into 1.5cm chunks

500g pumpkin, seeded and cut into large wedges (about 1.5cm x 5cm)

8 garlic cloves, peeled

⅓ cup small basil leaves

1 cup fine polenta

1½ cups grated parmesan cheese

90g butter, cubed

¼ cup olive oil

1¼ tbsp balsamic glaze


1. Preheat the oven to 220C. Preheat one large or two regular baking trays in the oven for 30 minutes.

2. Place the onion, capsicum, zucchini, pumpkin and garlic in a bowl. Drizzle with the oil, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and toss to coat. Remove the trays from the oven and quickly add the vegetables. Roast for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and lightly caramelised.

3. Meanwhile, bring 1 litre salted water to the boil in a large saucepan. Add the polenta in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly, until smooth. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes, or for as long as specified in the packet instructions, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat. Stir in the parmesan and butter until smooth and season well.

4. Drizzle the hot vegetables with the balsamic glaze, sprinkle with the basil and gently toss to coat.

5. Serve the soft polenta with the roast vegetables.