Vegetarian Polenta with Greens

This vegetarian polenta uses our favorite creamy polenta recipe as its base and is topped with garlicky greens and a runny egg.

Cooked greens weren’t served much at my house growing up, probably because of my dad’s strong distaste for cooked spinach. Plus, they don’t seem to be a common ingredient in the Minnesotan diet. But since I’ve moved out of the house (and down south), I’ve started to experiment with cooked greens and have found them to be pretty darn good. Not to mention they’re incredibly nutritious (think: lots of fiber, vitamins, and minerals). This vegetarian polenta uses our favorite creamy polenta recipe as its base and is topped with garlicky greens.

vegetarian polenta

What is polenta?

Italian in origin, polenta is made from ground cornmeal that’s been mixed with milk, cream, and/or water until it becomes thick and creamy. It’s similar to the grits enjoyed in the South, but the cornmeal used in polenta comes from a different kind of corn. Grits are slightly mushier than polenta and aren’t as coarse once cooked. Traditional polenta requires a longer cooking time on the stove and lots of stirring. It’s slightly sweet, but not so much that it can’t be enjoyed with more savory mains like fish or sautéed veggies.

This vegetarian polenta recipe features ultra creamy polenta, but you can also enjoy polenta hard (you can buy pre-cooked, hard polenta in tubes at the grocery store). Hard polenta is often baked or fried until golden, which results in a slightly crunchy outside and a fluffy inside.

Making vegetarian polenta

We topped this meal off with a fried egg, following Julia Child’s advice that adding an egg can make anything into a meal. I also threw some frozen corn kernels into the polenta for some texture, but I think a better addition would be some cheese (we’ve had previous success with adding Parmesan and ricotta). You can use any greens you have on hand for this recipe, such as spinach, kale, or rainbow chard.

To make this recipe vegan, substitute vegan butter for the regular butter, and omit the cheese and egg. Without the egg, this polenta recipe won’t be quite as filling, so I recommend serving it with a main dish, like smoky lentils.

Looking for more easy polenta recipes?

This vegetarian polenta recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free.

Print

Vegetarian Polenta with Greens


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (4 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x

Description

This vegetarian polenta uses our favorite creamy polenta recipe as its base and is topped with garlicky greens and a runny egg.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe Creamy Polenta
  • 1 1/2 pounds Swiss chard
  • 1 red onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Eggs (1 per person)
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Start the Creamy Polenta.
  2. Meanwhile, wash the chard, remove the stems, and roughly chop the leaves. Thinly slice the onion. Slice the garlic.
  3. In a large skillet, heat some olive oil. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, around 5 minutes. Then add the garlic and sauté for about 1 minute.
  4. Add the chard and stir to combine. Cover the pan and sauté until the greens are dark and soft, around 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the cover and let the liquid evaporate for 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and add salt and pepper to taste (be careful not to add too much salt at this point!).
  6. In another skillet, heat a bit of olive oil and fry the eggs.
  7. To serve, place a scoop of polenta in a bowl, top with greens and egg. Sprinkle with cheese, salt, and pepper.

Notes

Inspired by Jack Bishop in The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook

  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: vegetarian polenta

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

7 Comments

  • Reply
    Kirk
    August 17, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    Me had swiss chard from the garden with garlic last night, too! We even went more southern and had it with biscuits and gravy, which actually went together incredibly well.

  • Reply
    AO Eldest
    August 17, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    how did you get an archived blog to comment on a new posting? AI jealousy? are the machines awakening?

  • Reply
    Ostrakos
    September 27, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    Sorry, but if you’re down South, you should be makin’ grits, not polenta.

  • Reply
    weight
    September 28, 2010 at 12:29 am

    yeah my dad will like this

  • Reply
    Ashley
    November 17, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    My husband and I made this dish tonight… DELISH. Thanks for the recipe. As fellow Hoosiers we look forward to following your blog for local, in-season tips!!!

  • Reply
    Mira
    February 17, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    Any thoughts on what to replace the egg with in this meal. I can’t eat eggs, but would love to make a version of this thats well balanced (ie. protein component).

    • Reply
      Alex
      February 19, 2012 at 4:29 pm

      Hi! I would think that white beans would be a nice balance. Let us know if it you try it out!

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