This cauliflower polenta with maple-balsamic roasted vegetables may look like a plain Jane dish, but don’t be fooled.
It’s more flavorful than the real thing and it’s super healthy. Citrus perks up the toasty flavors of these roasted vegetables, which have soaked in jaw-dropping flavor from the sauce.
Whether it’s cauliflower pizza, cauliflower rice, buffalo cauliflower, or cauliflower steaks, the meek cauliflower is one of the hottest culinary trends. It can take on so many flavors and textures, plus it’s packed with nutrients and it’s grain-free.
Cauliflower makes great polenta. We’ll show you how easy it is to make and the simplest and best way to roast vegetables perfectly tender and packed with incredible flavors!
This recipe also doubles as two great sides. As a healthier alternative to mashed potatoes, cauliflower polenta is a winner with tons of natural sweet and buttery flavor. We make this polenta several times a month. As for the veggies, after making them last week, we’ve made them three times. That’s how good they are!
We usually wash cauliflower after cutting it. Start by breaking off any large outer leaves. There is more than one way to remove the stem or core. We opt for the quickest method of taking a paring knife with the tip toward the center and cutting around the stem.
When the stem is removed, the cauliflower will naturally fall apart into large florets. Cut the stem into chunks and steam along with florets for about 10 minutes, or until tender. Set aside to cool.
Transfer half of the cauliflower to a food processor. Process until smooth, adding up to 1/2 cup broth as needed. Scrape sides of bowl once or twice. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and repeat with remaining cauliflower. Add basil to the second batch of cauliflower, while blending.
Melt margarine in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Add broth and simmer for a couple of minutes. Add cauliflower puree and cheese shreds, if using. The cheese gives a slightly creamier texture to the polenta, but is not necessary to make a good polenta. Reduce heat and cook until cheese melts and polenta thickens.
If you’re making this ahead of time, you can make the cauliflower polenta a day in advance and then warm it gently over low heat with a splash of veggie broth or water.
It’s important to cut vegetables into uniform pieces so they cook evenly. Arrange the veggies in a single layer on a baking pan with a little space in between. If they are too crowded, the vegetables will steam instead of roast.
A lot of recipes tell you to toss all the veggies together and roast. Since cooking times vary from vegetable to vegetable, we like to roast them individually or paired with vegetables that roast at roughly the same time.
Arrange vegetables on a baking tray lined with parchment, lube ’em up with just a little oil, and cook according to their grouping. Baking times may need to be adjusted depending on the oven and the thickness of the vegetables.
We’ve paired broccoli with onions, which took about 20 minutes in our oven. Mushrooms were paired with zucchini and took about 10 minutes.
While the veggies are roasting, in a small bowl combine balsamic vinegar, pure maple syrup, fresh orange juice and chopped basil. Combine warm roasted vegetables with this sauce for incredible roasted veggies.
Top polenta with the best roasted veggies ever!
Cauliflower Polenta with Maple-Balsamic Roasted Vegetables
Yield 4 Servings
Free of: gluten and top 8 allergens.
1 large cauliflower head (about 2 pounds), trimmed and leaves removed, cut into florets, and stem cut into chunks
1 - 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth, divided (1/2 cup + 1/2 cup + 1/2 cup)
2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
3 tbsp dairy-free, soy-free margarine, such as Earth Balance buttery sticks
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 cup mozzarella shreds, such as Daiya - optional
1/2 cup cheddar shreds, such as Daiya - optional
Sea salt to taste
4 cups broccoli florets (about 2 small heads)
1 tbsp olive oil, divided (1 1/2 tsp + 1/2 tsp + 1/2 tsp + 1/2 tsp)
2 cups red onions, cut in large chunks
2 cups mushrooms, trimmed and quartered (about 8 ounces)
2 cups zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and then cut crosswise into 1-inch slices
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tbsp fresh orange juice
1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1/8 tsp dried thyme - optional
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved - optional garnish
- For the polenta, steam cauliflower for 10 minutes or until tender. Set aside to cool.
- Transfer half of the cauliflower to a food processor. Process until smooth, adding up to 1/2 cup broth as needed. Scrape sides of bowl once or twice. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and repeat with remaining cauliflower. Add basil to the second batch of cauliflower, while blending.
- In a medium saucepan, melt margarine over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally.
- Add remaining 1/2 cup broth and simmer for 2 minutes. Add cauliflower puree and cheese shreds, if using. Mix to combine. Reduce heat to low and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to melt cheese and until polenta thickens. If not using cheese, cook on low for 10-15 minutes, until polenta is thick. Season with salt.
- For the roasted vegetables, preheat oven to 400-degrees F.
- Line 2 baking pans with parchment paper. Toss broccoli with 1 1/2 tsp oil and arrange the broccoli on half of the first sheet pan. On the same pan, spread out the red onions tossed with 1/2 tsp oil on the other half. The zucchini and mushrooms are each tossed with 1/2 tsp oil and will share the second pan.
- Place the tray with broccoli and red onions on the top oven rack and the tray with mushrooms and zucchini on the bottom oven rack. Set your timer for 10 minutes. The mushrooms and zucchini will take about 10-15 minutes to roast. Remove from oven when tender. Continue to roast the broccoli and onions for a total of about 15-20 minutes, removing from oven when crisp tender.
- While vegetables are cooking, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, orange juice, basil, and thyme. Combine warm cooked vegetables and sauce.
- Divide polenta between 4 bowls or plates. Top with vegetables and garnish with cherry tomatoes, if desired.