Butternut Squash and Spinach Polenta Bowls

By Ashley Jennings | Last Updated: October 26, 2015

Butternut Squash and Spinach Polenta Bowls

Butternut Squash and Spinach Polenta Bowls

Butternut squash is hands down my favorite veggie to use during the fall and winter months. Slightly sweet but still savory, I’m always looking for fun new ways to put it to use. Combine that with my love of polenta and you are looking at my idea of perfect comfort food.

Cubes of butternut squash are roasted in the oven with some red onion, garlic and just a touch of cinnamon, which gives the veggies a bit of warmth. As soon as they are done baking, chopped baby spinach is added to the tray, so that the heat from the veggies help wilt it down slightly.

While the squash is roasting in the oven, the polenta is pulled together on the stove-top. Polenta on its own can be a bit plain, so we’ve jazzed it up with fresh minced rosemary and some cheese, to give it a boost of flavor. The whole dish is finished off with a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds for some crunch (you could also use another nut or seed of choice here).

Butternut Squash and Spinach Polenta Bowls

Now, a few notes on the polenta. When the polenta is finished cooking, you can add in some extra milk or water to thin it out to your desired consistency. I personally like to add in a splash or so of extra milk, but it just depends on your own preferences.

Also, keep in mind that leftover polenta will firm up and will hold the shape of whatever container you choose to store it in. If desired, you can warm it back up with a little more milk or water. While it won’t be quite as smooth and creamy as when freshly made, this will help loosen it back up a bit.

Go to Butternut Squash and Spinach Polenta Bowls recipe

Butternut Squash and Spinach Polenta Bowls

Prep Time:

20 minutes

Cook Time:

30 minutes

Total Time:

50 minutes


4 servings


    For the squash:

  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 4 cups cubed (3/4-inch) butternut squash (from a 2-pound butternut squash)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups roughly chopped fresh baby spinach leaves
  • For the polenta:

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup coarse polenta
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • Pumpkin seeds, for garnish
Print recipe


    For the squash:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
  2. Add the red onion and butternut squash to a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the garlic, salt, pepper and cinnamon. Toss to combine and spread in an even layer. Bake for about 30 minutes, stirring once halfway through, until tender and starting to brown.
  3. As soon as the squash comes out of the oven, add the spinach to the baking sheet and stir to combine. The heat from the baking sheet and vegetables will wilt down the spinach slightly.
  4. For the polenta:

  5. Meanwhile, bring the water, milk and salt to a gentle boil in a medium saucepan. Slowly pour in the polenta in an even stream, whisking constantly the entire time. Turn the heat down to low and partially cover with a lid. Cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, whisking often, until the polenta is thick and creamy. Remove from the heat and whisk in the rosemary and parmesan until combined. Taste and season with salt and pepper as desired.
  6. Divide the polenta into 4 bowls. Top each with the squash mixture and a sprinkle of the pumpkin seeds. Serve immediately.

About Ashley Jennings

Ashley Jennings is the blogger behind Cook Nourish Bliss, where she shares healthy, whole foods along with a few indulgent treats. Ashley is a home cook who loves to play in the kitchen, where she is constantly tripping over her hungry beagle.

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Holy comfort food, batman! I loooooove warm veggies over polenta. All that sweet and toasty butternut over steamy cornmeal is perfect for these frosty days. Where’s mah spoon at-at-at.

Wow! Polenta is one of my all time favorite comfort foods— paired with butternut squash, it just sounds like perfection. Can’t wait to try!

I love polenta and squash, I just cannot ignore any recipe featuring one of the two. But I have never combined them myself, I have to do that soon. 🙂

Hey Lindsay! Absolutely! I use plain unsweetened almond milk with polenta all the time (and you can just leave out the parm – polenta is plain on its own so you may want to just up the seasonings to taste if you’re leaving that out).

I made this recipe once, and it was delicious! It was my first polenta-making adventure. I’m looking to make this dish a second time and would like some suggestions for a spinach substitute. Would swiss chard, kale, or another leafy green work just as well and not change the taste too much?

Oh I’m so happy to hear it Carolyn! Yes, any of those should work here! I think the chard would be fantastic but pretty much any darker leafy green could be used (certain greens may not wilt down as much as the spinach – but I think they will still taste great).

This looks so yummy! I plan to make it tonight but all I have on hand is cornmeal and not polenta. Can I use that instead? Do you know the difference between the two?

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