A simple, delicious recipe for creamy polenta topped with spring veggies and herby gremolata. A 30-minute dinner that is full of flavor. Gluten-free and vegan adaptable.

creamy polenta in bowl topped with spring veggies, pea shoots, and herby gremolata.

As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.

Henry David Thoreau

Wandering through the farmers market this week (my favorite thing to do), I picked up some beautiful spring veggies and put together a simple vegan meal. Soft creamy polenta cradles tender spring veggies. A flavorful zesty herb sauce called Gremolata is spooned over the top, and there you have it. Spring in a bowl. So simple, so easy, I could eat this every day. No matter what the season, this simple dinner is easy to make with the veggies you have on hand.

Why You’ll Love This

  1. Healthy & seasonal. A clean, whole foods recipe utilizing fresh, local produce. Use seasonal veggies!
  2. Quick & easy. A simple method in under 30 minutes!
  3. Adaptable! Make it vegan or serve with protein or cheese.
  4. Elegant, creamy texture. Polenta is made creamy with good-quality olive oil.
  5. Flavorful! A zesty, herby gremolata adds a punch of vibrant flavor!


measuring scoop with ground dry polenta with spring veggies in background.
  • Polenta: Use dry polenta or yellow corn meal. Look for a medium, coarsely ground consistency.
  • Spice: Salt, granulated onion powder (or garlic powder), and pepper (white pepper).
  • Olive oil: Or butter or 1/4 cup goat cheese (or fontina). Olive oil is a dairy-free method for making the polenta creamy.
  • Veggies: You’ll need 4-5 cups of veggies total. Use what is in season. Today, I am using spring veggies (mushrooms, asparagus, fiddlehead ferns), but other sauteed or roasted veggies work too, such as bell pepper, zucchini, snow peas, eggplant, etc.
  • Shallot: Adds aromatic, savory depth.
  • Sherry wine: Or sub white wine, or simply use water. Using wine adds nice acidity.
  • Fresh herbs: Use fresh thyme or tarragon.
  • Gremolata: An herby, flavorful topping for the polenta that’s easy to make! Zesty, tangy, garlicky!
spring veggies laid out on wood table - fiddlehead ferns, mushrooms, asparagus.

What are Fiddlehead Ferns?

For those of you unfamiliar with fiddlehead ferns or how to cook them, treat them like asparagus. They are the furled fronds of a young fern, harvested in the wild for use as a vegetable.

Fiddlehead ferns can be sautéed, steamed, roasted, grilled, or even pickled! They have a springy green flavor and are only around for a few short months, so if you see them, grab some!

How to Make Creamy Polenta

Step 1: Prepare polenta. Boil water over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan or Dutch oven, seasoning with salt, pepper, and spices. Whisk in cornmeal and bring to simmer. Cover, reduce heat to low. After 10 minutes, whisk again. After 10 more minutes, use a wooden spoon to stir in olive oil, butter, or goat cheese. Turn off the heat.

Step 2: Make the gremolata. While the polenta is cooking, prepare the gremolata. You can make this in a food processor or bowl.

herby gremolata in small ceramic dish with spoon.

Tip: Make a large batch of gremolata! You can spoon over eggs, swirl into soups, layer into sandwiches or wraps, add to salads or over roasted veggies or grilled meats or fish. Store extra sauce in a sealed jar—it will keep in the fridge for up to a week!

sautéed morel mushrooms in cast iron skillet.

Step 3: Saute the veggies. Warm oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Chop veggies into bite-sized pieces. Sauté mushrooms until tender, 4-5 minutes. Add shallot and other veggies. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat and cook until al dente or fork tender, about 5 minutes. Add a splash of wine or water, turn heat to medium and cook off the wine. Taste and adjust for salt, remembering the gremolata will add flavor!

sautéing fiddlehead ferns and wild mushrooms in cast iron skillet.

Tip: If you have large pieces of veggies, cover the pan for a few minutes to gently steam. Be careful not to overcook, or the veggies will lose their color!

If using pea shoots as a garnish, make a well in the center of the pan and lightly sauté them, keeping them separate.

Tip: If polenta is too thick, reheat it while whisking in a splash of water until loose and creamy again. Taste and adjust for salt.

Step 4: Assemble. Divide among 2 bowls, or serve in a large platter or bowl and serve from there. Top with a mound of veggies and optional pea shoots.

bowl of creamy polenta topped with spring veggies and pea shoots.

Spoon flavorful gremolata over top. This Creamy Polenta makes an impressive plant-based main dish, or serve it as a side dish to any of our 40 Fresh & Healthy Spring Recipes!

creamy polenta with spring veggies, mushrooms, gremolata, and pea shoots.

Recipe Variations

  • Keep it seasonal: No matter what season you’re in, you can enjoy this creamy polenta! Swap the spring veggies for whatever veggies are in season! In the summer use grilled veggies and in the colder months use roasted winter squash.
  • Serve with protein: Serve with simple grilled salmon or chicken, or with seared tofu.
  • Add dairy: Swap the oil for butter and add goat cheese for rich flavor and creamy texture.
  • Use broth: Instead of water you can try this recipe with veggie or chicken broth (or veggie or chicken stock) or other liquid infusions, like tea!
  • Garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese!

Expert Tips

  1. Pulse the cornmeal: If using cornmeal, you can pulse it in a food processor to break down larger pieces. This will help with the overall creamy, smooth texture. You can use your hands to break apart any remaining clumps in the cornmeal grounds.
  2. Whisk continually while cooking: Add the polenta slowly, whisking constantly to avoid any clumps.
  3. Keep creamy: While preparing the veggies, the polenta will likely thicken. To thin it out again, gently reheat while stirring in a little water or oil. Taste and adjust for salt.
  4. Store polenta in the freezer: Store your extra cornmeal or dry polenta in the freezer! This will keep it fresh for longer.


What type of polenta do I buy?

The best polenta to use is a dry, organic, stone-ground (coarse grind or medium grind), whole grain polenta. Avoid quick-cooking, refined polenta.

What is the difference between grits and polenta?

It comes down to the type of corn. Grits are made from dent corn, while polenta is made from a variety of Italian flint corn, also known as otto file. This type of corn is harder and holds its shape better. Grits are a type of porridge made from dried maize or hominy.

What is creamy polenta made of?

The simple creamy polenta base is made with water and cornmeal, seasoned with spices and made creamy with olive oil.

How do you make polenta with a creamy consistency?

Stir in olive oil (or butter). The fat will make the texture rich, creamy, and smooth.

What do I do with leftover polenta?

You’ll notice that leftovers will be quite thick. While you can reheat and add a splash of liquid to achieve a thinner consistency, this is also a great opportunity to fry in a pan and create a crispier polenta dish! If it is thick enough to slice, you can also bake in the oven or grill it!

creamy polenta with sautéed fiddlehead ferns, asparagus, mushrooms, pea shoots, and an herby, oily gremolata.

So there you have it, spring in a bowl! Dive in and enjoy this Creamy Polenta recipe!


More Polenta Recipes You May Enjoy

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A simple elegant recipe for Creamy Polenta with Spring Veggies and Gremolata -  flavorful and healthy featuring vibrant spring produce that can be made in under 30 minutes. Vegan & Gluten Free! #creamypolenta #vegan #springrecipes #asparagus #fiddleheadferns #morel #porcini #softpolenta #veganpolenta

Creamy Polenta with Spring Veggies

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.6 from 12 reviews
  • Author: Sylvia Fountaine
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 2 1x
  • Category: Vegan, Main, Gluten-free
  • Method: Stove top
  • Cuisine: Italian


A simple, delicious recipe for creamy polenta topped with spring veggies and herby gremolata. A 30-minute dinner that is full of flavor. Gluten-free and vegan adaptable.


Units Scale


  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup dry polenta or cornmeal
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated onion powder ( or garlic powder )
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper ( white pepper is nice )
  • 23 tablespoons olive oil ( or butter, or 1/4 cup goat cheese)

Spring Veggies:

(4-5 cups veggies – here is what I used but feel free to sub other options below)

  • 1 cup morel mushrooms ( brush them clean, don’t wet) see other options
  • 1 cup porcini mushrooms ( brush them clean, don’t wet) see other options
  • 2 cups asparagus , tough ends removed, cut into 1-2 inch slices
  • 1 cup fiddlehead ferns ( optional, see other options)
  • handful pea shoots ( optional)
  • Other options: cremini mushrooms, spring peas, snow peas, english peas, edamame, green beans
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sherry wine, white wine or water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme ( or tarragon)

2 tablespoons Gremolata: get the recipe here!


  1. Bring water to boil in a medium pot. Season with salt, pepper and spices. Once it’s boiling, gradually whisk in the corn meal, bring to a simmer, cover, and turn heat to low. Mix again in 10 minutes. Then cook for another 10 minutes ( 20-25 minutes total). Stir in the olive oil, butter or goat cheese. Turn heat off.
  2. While the polenta is cooking make the Gremolata. Set aside.
  3. Saute the veggies. Cut veggies into bite-sized pieces. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add mushrooms first, and sauce until just tender, 4-5 minutes. Add shallot and other veggies. Season with salt and pepper and stir often. Lower heat and take your time, cook about 5 minutes until al dente, or just fork tender. Give a splash of wine or water, turn heat up to medium to help cook off the wine. Taste, adjust salt, remembering the gremolata will add a lot of flavor, so keep the veggies simple. If you have very thick asparagus, or larger pieces of veggies, you could cover the pan for a few minutes to lightly steam them, being careful not to overcook or you may lose their lovely color. If using pea shoots as the garnish, make a well in the center of the pan and lightly sauté them (keeping them separate).
  4. Assemble 2 bowls or make one large beautiful platter or bowl and serve it from there.
  5. If polenta has thickened too much, reheat it, whisking in a little splash of water, until loose and creamy again. Re-taste for salt. Pour polenta into bowls, top with a mound of the veggies, then top with optional pea shoots. Spoon the flavorful gremolata around the veggies, over the polenta.
  6. Enjoy!


For those who need more protein, this would be delicious with simple grilled salmon or chicken, or seared tofu. Feel free to adjust this recipe for the seasons. In summer use grilled zucchini, peppers eggplant, in the fall roasted winter squash and fall mushrooms. Very adaptable.


  • Serving Size: -2 hearty servings without Gremolata Sauce
  • Calories: 371
  • Sugar: 3.6 g
  • Sodium: 900.9 mg
  • Fat: 22.7 g
  • Saturated Fat: 3.3 g
  • Carbohydrates: 35.1 g
  • Fiber: 7.4 g
  • Protein: 7.8 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

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  1. We are so fortunate to have fiddleheads growing wild in the woods behind our house. I am always looking for new ways to prepare them..so delicious!

  2. Fiddlehead ferns are in the markets, for a minute, on the East Coast, so we tried this along with mussels cooked in a brown ale, and a mixed green salad. The polenta dish was fantastic, and went very well with the mussels. Thanks! Next day I used the left over gremolata with leftover shelled mussels, for a marinated mussel salad. Perfect for lunch!

    1. Awesome Joseph! Happy you found the fiddleheads- they are so tasty!

  3. Total winner. It was my first time making polenta 😊 I used asparagus, green beans, mushrooms, and added some edamame too! The gremolata mixed into the creamy polenta is divine!!! I so love your recipes, keep em coming 😊

    1. Oh dear. Sorry about that. Can you be more specific as to what you didn’t enjoy? It will help me when I retest the recipe- thanks!

  4. This was super delicious. As per usual with your recipes. So simple, easy to make the gremolata ahead of time. I used asparagus, mushrooms, and green beans. Didn’t know I liked polenta! And very filling. Thanks!

  5. Love this recipe! We didn’t have access to fiddle head or morel so we re-hydrated shiitake and pan seared snap peas along with shallots and garlic. We also added some charred broccoli with red pepper flakes for a bit of kick. For the polenta, I would definitely recommend using homemade chicken stock if you can. Offers great health benefits and more flavor! We paired this dish with your miso salmon dish (sub halibut). Delicious!

  6. This was absolutely delicious. So delicious, it was completely worth 3 hours poking around in the muddy woods for morels (which, to be honest, I also loved). I made the gremolata with parsley and a handful of nettles, to stay with the theme of “wild dinner”, and served the whole thing over a bed of arugula. I LOVED the whole thing. (My 8 year old son gives it 4 stars only because as it turns out he’s not a fan of fiddle ferns, but otherwise two thumbs up from him too. He especially liked the mud.)

    1. Awww thanks so much Jaeden, I’m so happy you liked this! Love the addition of nettles! great idea!

  7. We tried this recipe last week and really enjoyed it. We love the flavours! Thank you for sharing this lovely creation 🙂

  8. Finally delicious vegan recipes thanks to Sylvia. Made this tonight….so delicious, husband loved it! The Gremolata really takes this dish to the next level. Thank you for sharing your amazing recipes!

  9. Wow. This is fabulous. I’m gradually switching to a plant-based way of eating without relying on pasta and rice . I’ve always loved polenta but have only ever eaten it with meat (also fabulous). I whipped this dish up with some leftover baby bok choi and it was divine. The gremolata was surprisingly scrumptious especially as I’m not a big fan of parsley. Will be making this one again and again. Thanks for posting!

  10. I have tried many of your recipients and love them all. Please never stop posting your recipes and writing.

  11. I have never seen edible ferns before, so cool! I love hearing about new and interesting foods, so I’m excited to try this recipe (though i doubt my area has these). I love polenta but I never seem to have good luck with it. I’ll give it another shot following your instructions.

  12. I didn’t have your spring greens, but used mushrooms and red onions stir fried with beet greens and roasted beets beside. Fantastic! Loved the polenta with the gremolata! Thank you!

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