Polenta is a staple of Italian cuisine that pairs well with varieties of other dishes.
You can enjoy it like a hot porridge or let it cool and harden to become a load you can grill, bake, or fry.
The main ingredients of polenta include white or yellow cornmeal and soup stock or water.
It gives the perfect canvas for spicy, savory, or sweet sides.
Since polenta has a subtle flavor, you can come up with many side dishes to compliment it.
However, if you’re still stuck at- what to serve with polenta, we have some great side dishes you can try.
Why Consider Serving Side Dishes with Polenta?
Since polenta has mild and earthy flavors, it makes a perfect accompaniment for sweet and savory dishes.
WebMD states that a single serving (100g) of polenta contains 371 calories, 77g carbs, 8.5g proteins, and 6g dietary fiber.
If you want to make your meal more rounded, you should serve some side dishes along with polenta.
It is a versatile dish that pairs well with Chorizo Sweet Potatoes, Balsamic Roasted Vegetables, and many other sides.
However, you can make any other dish that comes to mind if they match and work with polenta’s flavor profiles.
What to Serve with Polenta? 10 BEST Side Dishes
1 – Balsamic Roasted Vegetables
The best thing about this side dish is that you can use any vegetable you have in your pantry.
Yukon gold potatoes (or regular potatoes), sweet potato, broccoli, red pepper, shallots, Brussels sprouts, carrots, leeks, asparagus- everything works.
Toss them with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, parsley, oregano, and salt & pepper, and you’re done.
The balsamic vinegar adds some tanginess to the side dish, making it pair well with the creamy polenta.
If you need a quick and easy side dish that’s also healthy, we suggest going for this one without a second thought.
2 – Zucchini Ribbons with Garlic & Lemon
Shout out to the people who love to get creative with vegetables.
This beautiful side dish is so versatile that you can serve it alongside any main course, including polenta.
Thinly slice the zucchini into ribbons and sauté with garlic and lemon for a bright, flavorful dish that completes your meal.
For extra flavor and texture, you can top it with sesame seeds, grated parmesan, and crunchy peanuts.
Zucchini ribbons with garlic and lemon are easy and quick to make.
It makes a refreshing side for something filling like polenta.
3 – Roasted Mushrooms and Asparagus
There’s only one word for this side dish- EARTHY.
Simple yet incredibly flavorful, roasted mushrooms and asparagus is a side dish that requires only six ingredients- white/brown mushrooms, asparagus, garlic, black pepper, olive oil, and salt.
You can use different mushrooms to make this side dish.
Some great options are Bella, cremini, shiitake, and button mushrooms.
Mushrooms and asparagus scream luxury.
So, use them when you have guests to impress.
The best part is that they are incredibly easy to make and compliments polenta well.
4 – Chorizo Sweet Potatoes
With a combination of sweet potatoes’ sweetness and creaminess and chorizo’s spiciness, this side dish offers flavors you can’t compare with anything.
Simply sauté the chorizo and sweet potatoes together in a pan, then serve alongside your favorite polenta recipe.
You’ll love the flavor combination of these two ingredients.
Adding mushrooms and avocado slivers give the dish a rich, creamy texture and an earthy flavor.
You can give it more depth by using spices like garlic, cumin, and chili powder.
5 – Garlic and Almonds Sauteed Green Beans
Not only are green beans a great complement to polenta, but they’re also environment-friendly.
It is simple to make and gives a nice crunch to the meal.
Don’t be shy with the garlic; it is what makes the side dish stand out.
You can add as many as you like.
To make this side dish, you will first need to boil the green beans for some minutes.
Let them soften and drain excess water. The next step is to heat a pan, add olive oil, and fry your garlic.
Lastly, sauté the green beans and add salt & pepper.
Even beginners will find this side dish effortless and incredibly tasty.
TIP: Use sesame oil to sauté the beans and garlic for a unique flavor.
6 – Bacon and Brussels Sprouts
Everybody will love to see some bacon on the side when eating polenta.
Add some bacon slices with Brussels sprouts as a side dish to make a complete and balanced meal.
For even more flavors, you can serve a small bowl of ranch dressing on the side.
Need some spice? Sprinkle some garlic and paprika.
In fact, you can use your favorite seasonings to add your flare to this dish.
7 – Cheesy Stuffed Bell Peppers
Another dish that pairs beautifully with polenta is cheesy stuffed bell peppers.
You can customize this savory and cheesy side dish any way you want to suit your taste buds.
For the stuffing, you can use sausages, ground chicken, or ground beef.
And if you want to keep your meal vegetarian, replace the meat with your favorite vegetables or mushrooms.
Stuffed bell peppers make a great addition to any meal because they go well with many flavor profiles.
8 – Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes
When it comes to side dishes, potatoes are always a good option.
And when it comes to potatoes, scalloped potatoes are definitely a step above the rest.
This dish is simple yet elegant, and it pairs perfectly with polenta.
So, if you’re looking for a show-stopping side dish, cheesy scalloped potatoes are the way to go.
We recommend using Pecorino Romano cheese for this side dish.
But feel free to use any cheese you like.
Use fresh chives and thyme for seasoning if you want to give it a stronger kick of flavor.
9 – Parmesan and Garlic Roasted Broccoli
Need a side dish in 20 minutes? This one’s for you.
You can deepen a broccoli’s flavor by roasting them on high heat in an oven.
It is one of the most beloved veggies for roasting because the stems stay crisp and tender when the florets soften and caramelize.
You only need some olive oil, salt, and pepper to roast broccoli.
But adding parmesan cheese and some lemon juice takes the side dish to another level.
Serve your Parmesan and garlic roasted broccoli with polenta- everyone will love it.
Although unlikely, even if you have leftovers, you can refrigerate them and eat them cold later.
10 – Mexican Quinoa Salad
If you plan to serve multiple dishes for your dinner and need a versatile ingredient to go with them, we recommend quinoa.
Quinoa works excellent in casseroles, salads, pilafs, and risottos, so you can make anything you want with it.
Those who need something light and filling to pair with polenta should try quinoa salad.
When added dried cranberries and pomegranate seeds to it, you get a fresh and unique flavor to contrast with polenta.
You can also sprinkle some crunchy pistachios to add extra texture to the salad, while some parsley will give you a refreshing taste.
You can use olive oil, orange juice, and honey for the salad dressing.
This side dish is great for dinner and lunch because it is filling and full of healthy ingredients.
Although you can enjoy polenta in various ways, people prefer eating it as a creamy porridge.
There are different uses of polenta; you can substitute it for mashed potatoes (to make shepherd’s pie), pasta, rice, and more.
Since it is very versatile, you can pair many side dishes with polenta.
Recipes that contain cheeses, beef, chicken, pork, and vegetables go well with it.
But for inspiration and ideas, we’ve presented our top ten side dishes.
Hopefully, you’ll like them to serve with polenta. Go ahead and try your favorite one today.