A simple elegant recipe for Creamy Polenta with Spring Veggies and Gremolata – a flavorful and healthy meal featuring vibrant spring produce that can be made in under 30 minutes. Vegan & Gluten Free!
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 fiddlehead ferns, morel and porcini mushrooms and asparagus. 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. So elegant and flavorful. I could eat this every day.
I love this recipe because it’s easily adaptable and could be made in any season, using any seasonal veggies you choose. For those requiring more protein, serve this with grilled chicken or fish, or crumbled goat cheese. But for today, I’ve kept it clean and lean, letting the veggies shine. The creamy polenta is made “creamy” with olive oil, but make sure to see recipe notes for other options.
Some of you know that I used to own a vegetarian restaurant in my previous life. One of the things that I like to do is pretend that what I share here (simplified of course) would be the “special” of the week at the restaurant. (Please don’t misunderstand, I absolutely do not want to have another restaurant – I loved it and at the same time, am soooooo happy to have moved on.;) ) But this Creamy Polenta with Spring Veggies is one of those recipes I would love to serve up to you in the “make-believe” restaurant in my imgination. Of course it would be adorned in beautiful edible flowers.
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!
For this recipe you will start off with the creamy polenta. I used a coarse cornmeal, and a little goes a long way. A half cup makes 2 very hearty servings.
It takes about 20 minutes on the stove to make this creamy polenta and while it’s cooking you can prepare the other components.
You’ll find a million uses for this tasty zesty sauce – spooned over eggs, swirled into soups, layered into sandwiches or wraps, added to salads or over roasted veggies or grilled meats or fish.
Next you’ll sauté your veggies. Start with the mushrooms, then add the shallot, asparagus and fiddle heads. Of course you can substitute other more accessible veggies just see the recipe notes. 🙂
Cook the spring veggies until vibrant and tender.
Divide the creamy polenta among 2 bowls – or spoon it onto a big platter or serving bowl like you see here.
Then pile the spring veggies over top.
If the creamy polenta gets stiff waiting for you to finish up cooking the spring veggies, simple reheat, whisking in a little more water until its loose again.
Top the creamy polenta with the spring veggies and if you like, add some sautéed pea shoots for garnish.
Then drizzle with the flavorful Gremolata.
Place the leftover gremolata sauce in a little sealed jar in the fridge- it will keep up to a week.
So here you have it- spring in a bowl.
Dive in and enjoy it.
Creamy Polenta with Spring Veggies and Gremolata
A simple elegant recipe for Creamy Polenta with Spring Veggies ( fiddlehead ferns, morel mushrooms and asparagus- or sub others!) and flavorful Gremolata – flavorful and health, featuring vibrant spring produce that can be made in under 30 minutes. Vegan & Gluten Free!
- Prep Time: 10
- Cook Time: 20
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 2
- Category: Vegan, Main, Gluten-free
- Method: Stove top
- Cuisine: Italian
- 2 ½ cups water
- ½ cup dry polenta or cornmeal
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon granulated onion powder ( or garlic powder )
- ¼ teaspoon pepper ( white pepper is nice )
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil ( or butter, or ¼ cup goat cheese)
(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!
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.
While the polenta is cooking make the Gremolata. Set aside.
Cook 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).
Assemble 2 bowls or make one large beautiful platter or bowl and serve it from there.
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.
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.
Keywords: vegan polenta, creamy polenta, spring recipes, creamy polenta with spring veggies, soft polenta, fiddlehead fern recipes, morel mushroom recipes