Polenta, like many Italian dishes, is a wonderful, tasty delight.
What makes Polenta special is how incredibly versatile it is.
Polenta is mainly made from grains, typically cornmeal. In Northern Italy, Polenta is served hot and tastes like warm porridge.
This hearty dish can also be served cold, though. Once Polenta cools down and solidifies, you can mix it up further.
You can grill the loaf, bake it, or even fry it if you like!
The real problem, however, is what to serve with Polenta.
Since I’ve been in the same pickle before, I’ve written this guide to help you out.
These 9 side dishes of mine work greatly with Polenta!
You’ll find a collection of Polenta sides that will please those of you who like to eat healthy, spicy, savory, or sweet.
What to Serve With Polenta?
What to make with Polenta?
Let’s take you through those 9 different Polenta sides so you can figure out what goes with Polenta.
1. Spicy Grilled Shrimp
My top choice when serving Polenta is preparing a seafood side dish that’ll pair beautifully with it.
I chose this recipe as a side dish for Polenta because not only is it super delicious, but it’s also finger-licking spicy.
Here’s the kicker:
Whether you decide to serve your Polenta cold or hot, grilled shrimps will work for either dish.
You can even put out a collection of dipping sauces along with your Polenta toast and tasty, spicy shrimps.
2. Creamy Green Salad
A standard green salad, with sliced cucumbers, carrots, and tomatoes, isn’t a side dish for everyone.
Paired with warm Polenta porridge, or baked Polenta bread, you’re in for a super healthy and hearty meal—particularly on cold nights!
The salad dressing makes this recipe even better!
This recipe calls for a creamy salad dressing that you can quickly whip up in your blender and then pour on your greens.
It adds just the right kick, trust me!
3. Cheesy Potato Patties
Carbs on carbs? Yes, please!
Polenta is missing that fatty starch element.
So, enter everyone’s favorite carb: Potatoes!
Not just any potatoes either, but cheesy potato patties—they were so wonderfully delicious, I couldn’t get over them!
Spreading hearty Polenta on a potato patty made for a satisfying dinner that left my guests and me feeling quite full.
4. Colorful Zucchini Ribbons
This Polenta side dish is for my healthy folks who like to get creative with their veggies so they can tolerate eating them.
Two words, my friends:
What makes these zucchini ribbons even greater is how much you can do with them. The options are endless!
I choose to marinate the zucchini slices in a citrus-based solution until each zucchini is tender enough.
Top them off with some crunchy peanuts, sesame seeds, and grade-A Italian parmesan cheese.
5. Crunchy Green Bean Salad
Green bean salad is another delicious, vegetarian side option you should definitely consider.
I loved it because you can get as creative as you want with this dish.
Plus, the crunchiness of roasted green beans added a whole lot of flavor to my Polenta!
That’s not all:
Whipping up this healthy treat took no longer than 15 minutes! Which works great when all you want is a quick, satisfying lunch.
6. Juicy Braised Short Ribs
What to make with Polenta?
Since Polenta is more carb and less protein, a juicy piece of meat is all that’s missing to make this Italian dish perfect!
I like my meats braised and slow-cooked because I’m always looking for them to be just tender enough to bite into.
You can skip over sautéing the vegetables if you prefer, but they do soak up much of the flavor dripping off your short ribs.
7. Healthy Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Wild Mushrooms
One of the most popular side dishes for Polenta is roasted Brussel sprouts and wild mushrooms.
Because it makes for a simple, unfussy meal that you can have either for lunch or dinner.
I loved using fresh rosemary and thyme personally, but you can opt for oregano, sage, or even parsley.
This is an exceptional meal during the holidays, especially Christmas, as it’s a hearty meal that leaves you feeling warm inside.
8. Tender Pan-Seared Chicken Breasts
What goes with Polenta?
Simple, pan-seared chicken breasts!
This side dish can be easily done in under 40 minutes.
Want to save even more time?
Check out the recipe I used to mix Polenta and chicken in one oven-safe tray then bake the meal in one go!
You can even throw some of your favorite veggies in there if you want.
I opted for some roasted tomatoes, carrots, and spicy Jalapeno slices.
This is a fun way to use leftover polenta as well. You’ll never know it was last weekend’s polenta!
9. Quick and Easy Skillet Eggs With Chorizo
Enjoy Polenta so much you want to have it for breakfast?
Top your warm Polenta dish with a freshly, grilled egg and cut-up pieces of Chorizo sausage, then wait for your taste buds to thank you.
Not only that:
This recipe also works with Polenta toast or fried Polenta sticks too.
You can have fun with this dish as well and choose from a variety of processed meats instead of Chorizo, such as salami, bacon, or beef jerky.
10. Fresh Garlic and Herb Roasted Potatoes
I’ve said it before:
Potatoes and Polenta make a wonderful meal together.
Pair that with fresh herbs, minced garlic, as well as melting parmesan, and you end up with the perfect tray of roasted potatoes!
This recipe is super easy to create as well. Just remember to serve it hot for that optimal tasting experience.
Some ranch dressing or honey mustard will also go a long way!
11. Delicious Mushroom and Walnut Pâté
Bring out this side meal in case you’re vegan or have vegan friends and would like to enjoy your home-cooked Polenta.
Since Pâté is more or less a paste, you can easily spread it onto Polenta loaves and enjoy the creaminess of that pairing.
People who like to get creative in the kitchen have the chance to do so with this recipe.
As for me:
I enjoyed this side dish for Polenta as is! Using fresh mushrooms from my garden really brought out the taste as well.
12. Hearty Quinoa Salad
Another salad variety I quite liked was this rich take on quinoa.
I found that there are many recipes that play around with quinoa, such as Mexican and Southwestern
While good and all, this one was the best!
It left me full for more than a couple of hours. Plus, it’s both vegan-friendly and gluten-free.
A trick I learned was to mix this salad with mildly hot Polenta for a warm dinner on a cold night.
13. Buttery Roasted Asparagus and Mushrooms
If my previous veggie-based sides didn’t work for you, this one is guaranteed to.
I, personally, love asparagus because of its crunchiness and that delicious savory taste it has.
Paired with sweet, fresh mushrooms, altogether seared in some butter or olive oil—I’m hungry just thinking about making this dish again!
Throw in a few chilly flakes or a couple of Jalapeno peppers in case you feel like it too.
You can choose to eat this side with hot or cold Polenta. Both work rather fine.
14. Loaded Cauliflower Casserole
Cauliflower may not be for everyone, but this cheesy side dish for Polenta is!
Here’s the kicker, though:
Casseroles are super easy to make!
All you need to do is mix together all your favorite ingredients, top them off with cheese, throw the dish in the oven, and voila, you’re all set!
I added chopped carrots and mushrooms to my casserole, but you can opt for whatever veggies tickle your tummy.
15. Crunchy Bacon and Carmelized Onions
Let’s be honest:
Bacon works with everything. So, why won’t it go with Polenta?
Choose your most beloved variety of bacon and crisp that bad boy up on a pan with a tablespoon of butter.
In a separate pan, carmelize some onions (I chose red ones), using brown sugar.
This side dish works best when the Polenta is served cold.
A fun tip:
Grill your Polenta loaves in the same pan as the bacon to soak up that meat juice!
I hope my simple guide helped you figure out what to serve with Polenta during your next party or gathering of friends.
Personally, my favorite side dish would be the spicy grilled shrimp. Zucchini ribbons and meaty short ribs are other great options to consider if you lean more towards the savory side of things.
What to Serve with Polenta? 15 Flavor Boosting Sides
- Grilled Shrimp
- Creamy Green Salad
- Potato Patties
- Zucchini Ribbons
- Green Bean Salad
- Braised Short Ribs
- Roasted Sprouts and Mushrooms
- Pan-Seared Chicken Breasts
- Skillet Eggs with Chorizo
- Herb Roasted Potatoes
- Mushroom and Walnut Pâté
- Quinoa Salad
- Roasted Asparagus and Mushrooms
- Cauliflower Casserole
- Bacon and Carmelized Onions
- Choose your desired polenta side dish recipe.
- Gather and organize needed ingredients.
- Create a tasty polenta side recipe to complete your meal!