This easy Crispy Polenta with Asparagus and Creamy Tomato Sauce is a delicious vegetarian main dish or side dish.
This simple crispy polenta and asparagus dish is the perfect thing to make when you want something special and something that tastes indulgent, but you find yourself short on time. Why? Well, it's easy to make, tastes great, and I have some shortcuts that help make it even quicker!
First off, buying prepared polenta significantly cuts down the cooking time. Second, the simple sauce of diced tomatoes, cream cheese, and Parmesan comes together in minutes.
Third, you can pair it with just about any veggie and it'll be delicious. However, I am partial to asparagus, especially when it's in season.
If you're ready to make a new, delicious, vegetarian meal (with some added protein/meat options, more on that below), then you'll love making this Crispy Polenta with Asparagus and Creamy Tomato Sauce!
Prefer creamy polenta? Turn this into a tasty bowl taking inspiration from these polenta bowls with mushrooms.
What Do You Need For Crispy Polenta?
You only need a few pantry/fridge staples, whatever veggies you like, and some store-bought polenta to have this dish together in a flash!
- Precooked polenta or you could make your own and cut it into squares. Any flavor works.
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Asparagus or you could make this with other vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, or zucchini. You could also use a combination. I love adding mushrooms to the mix.
- Oregano (or dried rosemary) or really any herbs you like.
- Canned diced tomatoes are ideal but any canned tomatoes will work and you could even use marinara sauce, just cut back on the spices.
- Reduced fat cream cheese makes the creamiest sauce but you could also use ricotta or a splash of half and half.
- Parmesan cheese or could you use goat cheese, mozzarella, fresh mozzarella, anything you have will work.
- Italian seasoning or dried basil and thyme.
- Garlic powder or fresh garlic will work.
How Do You Make Crispy Polenta with Asparagus and Creamy Tomato Sauce?
In addition to the ingredients being easy to come by and made even easier by using store-bought polenta, there are also two options to choose from when it's time to pull it all together to cook it.
Option 1: With this option, you'll be cooking the crispy polenta in the oven.
First, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Then, brush the polenta patties with olive oil and season with salt on each side. Bake these on each side for about 6-8 minutes, or until they are crispy. While the patties bake, roast the asparagus. Spray asparagus with cooking spray and season with salt and pepper and put it on a baking sheet to roast alongside the polenta.
Option 2: This details how to cook this on the grill.
Preheat your grill to a medium heat. Brush the patties with olive oil and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Grill the patties for 6-8 minutes on each side until they are crispy. Again, grill the asparagus while the polenta is cooking. Spray the asparagus with cooking spray, and season with salt and pepper and grill right on the grates or use some aluminum foil under them if you are afraid they will fall through while they're grilling.
No matter which option you choose for the polenta and asparagus, you'll want to cook the rest of the dish on the oven in a saucepan. First, add the tomatoes and their juices to your pan. Bring to a simmer and then stir in the cream cheese, Parmesan, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder. Let this all simmer together for 5-6 minutes until it thickens. Then, that's it! Serve this sauce over the polenta and asparagus.
What Is Polenta?
Polenta is a dish that originated in northern Italy. It is made from yellow corn and is a sort of porridge made from the cornmeal. However, the cornmeal has to be of a specific grind (like coffee) in order to make the polenta correctly. So, theoretically you can't just turn any bag of cornmeal into polenta, although it will taste okay, just could be a little more textured than you want.
If you can't find pre-made polenta you could also use instant or quick-cooking polenta.
Ideas for Customizing This Crispy Polenta Dish
- Add cooked bacon to this dish for a perfect, bacony taste.
- You could also add some cooked Italian turkey or chicken sausage to this polenta dish.
- If you want to keep it vegetarian but add more protein, add a can of drained and rinsed white navy beans.
- I mentioned changing the asparagus out for other veggies. Ones I like that work well include eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, green beans, or bell peppers (any color).
- You can use another cheese other than Parmesan. Gruyere and Romano are favorites of mine too. Any hard, shredded cheeses will work.
- Use a can of chili-ready or fire-roasted tomatoes to give this polenta dish some kick.
- If the tomato sauce feels too thin, try these tips to learn how to thicken tomato sauce.
Looking for more polenta dishes?
- Mushroom and Spinach Polenta with Goat Cheese
- Baked Italian Polenta with Vegetables
- Basil Parmesan Polenta
- Sausage, Spinach, and Polenta Bowl
- Creamy Spinach Polenta
Even if you've never cooked with polenta before, I think you're going to love this dish!
Crispy Polenta with Asparagus
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- 18 oz tube precooked polenta, sliced into 12 rounds
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 3 cups asparagus
- 1 tsp oregano (or dried rosemary)
- 14 oz. canned diced tomatoes
- 1/3 cup reduced fat cream cheese
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
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- Nutritional Information
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* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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