Butternut Squash Polenta Cakes with Roasted Veggie Spread

Butternut Squash Polenta Cakes with Roasted Veggie Spread

Yield: 8-10 (as an appetizer)

Pan-fried polenta cakes make for the perfect hors d’oeuvres because you can top them with virtually anything. I love topping my butternut squash polenta cakes with a roasted veggie spread made with eggplant, red peppers, red onion, and tomato paste.


  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded
  • 1 red onion, peeled
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 small butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups polenta (or coarse cornmeal)
  • 7 cups cold water
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/2 cup flour + 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • oil for frying


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cut the eggplant, bell pepper, and onion into 1-inch cubes. Toss them in a large bowl with the garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread them on a baking sheet.
  3. Roast for 45 minutes, until the vegetables are lightly browned and soft, tossing once during cooking. Cool slightly.
  4. Place the vegetables in a food processor, add the tomato paste, and blend until everything is pureed. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  7. If you’ve already refrigerated your leftover polenta, skip to Step 11.
  8. Peel the squash, cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, and cut into 1-inch cubes (Tip: microwave the entire squash for a few minutes so that it’s easier to cut into). Place the squash on a foil-lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast until soft and edges are lightly browned (30-40 min). Set aside.
  9. Combine polenta and cold water in a large saucepan or pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer over low heat, stirring often, until thickened, about 15 minutes. Mix in squash and stir, mashing up the squash. Continue cooking until the cornmeal is no longer grainy on your tongue (about another 15 minutes); add more water if needed if the polenta becomes too thick.
  10. Mix in the parmesan and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in butter to finish.
  11. Spread the polenta evenly onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Allow to cool, then cover and refrigerate overnight.
  12. Cut the polenta out in squares.
  13. Dust both sides with the flour/cornstarch mixture.
  14. Heat up some oil in a frying pan and fry the polenta squares, flipping once, so that a browned crust forms on each side.
  15. Cut into triangles, top with a spoonful of Roasted Veggie Spread, and sprinkle with grated Parmigiano. Serve immediately.


Roasted Veggie Spread recipe adapted from Ina Garten.