Creamy Pumpkin Polenta with Apple and Feta Crumble

I have had pumpkin on my brain for weeks, thinking of all the ways I want to use it. And then I realized I was just sitting around and thinking, but not doing very much about it. Honestly, sometimes I think about something so much that it’s almost like I really did it…

Then I decided to roast my own pumpkin and got very motivated. Nothing like trying a new, simple technique to get me going. In fact it was so much fun, you might be seeing a few pumpkin recipes before the season is over. But first up: Pumpkin Polenta. As a note, the last three recipes I’ve posted this week combine together to make this an easy dish!

This Pumpkin Polenta makes a great lunch with a salad. It warmed me up on a chilly day, and stayed with me all afternoon. I’ve provided some tips on making polenta in the below Cook’s Notes, but for some great information on the history of polenta and more tips in making it, this is a great article to relax over on the Global Gourmet website.

I made this with a terrific Apple and Feta Topping, but my husband, a confirmed carnivore, likes this with some meat. When he first tried it, he really liked it but said it needed some good stuff. Thinking he meant some cream or cheese, I asked what he thought I should add. His response: Meat, and lots of it….

So, if you’re looking for something more hearty, you can take a more ‘wimpy vegetarian’ approach and serve this with roast chicken, pork or top it with a brisket stew. Me? I thought it was perfect with the Apple Feta Crumble :-)

Creamy Pumpkin Polenta

Cook’s Notes:

  • Polenta is famous for its tendency to thicken and can be made to a variety of consistencies ranging from firm to soft. General rule of thumb for firm polenta (aka very, very thick), use 1 part polenta to 3-4 parts liquid; for soft polenta, use 1 part polenta to 6-8 parts liquid. 
  • Polenta comes in fine, medium and coarse grain. The finer the grain, the less creamy it will be, so I tend to use medium or coarse grain with the later being my favorite for a creamy polenta like this recipe.
  • Polenta thickens over time and should be served immediately. Ideally, get everything else ready and kept warm until the polenta can be served. If this isn’t possible, and the polenta must sit on the stove for a bit, it’s best to keep it warm in a hot water bath, if possible. Alternatively, you can ladle in some hot liquid just before serving and stir to allow the polenta to absorb it.
  • Tips for a creamier polenta: 1) use a coarser grain polenta; 2) add fat at the end in the form of milk, cream, butter, and/or cheese; or 3) add a pinch of baking soda. Be careful with the baking soda, as more than a pinch can turn the polenta to mush, which isn’t quite as attractive as creamy :-) . Even creamy polenta should have a mouthfeel of some of the texture of the grain. Also, be aware that the addition of even a pinch of baking soda will speed the cooking.
  • If making your own vegetable broth, this would be a great one to add chunks of pumpkin to, and/or stripped corn cobs to increase the pumpkin and/or corn flavors.

Ingredients…

  • 5 cups vegetable stock, divided (preferably homemade)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 2 ¼ cups pumpkin purée (preferably homemade)
  • ½ cup apple cider
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt, or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice, or to taste

Making It…

  1. Bring 4 cups of the vegetable stock to a simmer with the butter. Add the polenta and stir the polenta thoroughly.
  2. Once the polenta begins to thicken (about 5 minutes), reduce the heat to low and add the pumpkin purée and apple cider. Continue to stir. Once the polenta has considerably thickened (after about 15 minutes), add the cream cheese, cream, salt and allspice.
  3. Ladle additional hot stock into the polenta as needed for the consistency you prefer. I used a total of 5 cups of broth, but the amount will depend on the age of the grain, the heat of the stove, and the coarseness of the grain.

Apple Feta Crumble

Ingredients…

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 crisp apple, cored (I used Granny Smith)
  • 1/2 Serrano pepper, minced
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 2 teaspoons crumbled feta or goat cheese
  • 2 teaspoon toasted pepitas
  • 1 large garlic minced
  • pinch minced sage
  • splash balsamic vinegar

Making It…

  1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the rest of the ingredients EXCEPT the balsamic vinegar.
  2. Cook until the apples and onions soften and become slightly golden (about 15 minutes). Add the splash of balsamic vinegar and stir for 1 minute.
  3. Serve on top of the polenta. Add a little salad on the side, pour a cup of tea, and relax.

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12 Responses to “Creamy Pumpkin Polenta with Apple and Feta Crumble” Subscribe

  1. Annapet (@thedailypalette) November 12, 2011 at 10:16 am #

    This is so beautiful! I recently experienced the pairing of pumpkin and apple in a soup, and fell in love. What you made will dance on my palate, for sure! And you have feta! Everything to love, plus the texture of roasted pumpkin seeds!

    Thank you for linking up to the Squash Blog Hop! ;-) Sincerely, Annapet

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian November 12, 2011 at 11:30 am #

      Thanks so much for stopping by and for your comment, Annapet!! The feta, as you pointed out, is really a key ingredient in the crumble – it doesn’t work nearly as well without it. I love your Squash Blog Hop – what a wonderful idea!! I can’t remember how I found it, but am so glad that I did. There are some GREAT recipes there!

  2. boulangere November 12, 2011 at 3:21 pm #

    Polenta is one of my very favorite foods, especially this time of year. The coarse grind works best for me. I love the addition of the serano here. Apples and feta, oh yeah! A perfect meal unto itself.

  3. Hannah November 17, 2011 at 8:44 am #

    Oh wow, what a gorgeous photo of a delicious dish…so many terrific flavors here. My husband would probably have the same response as yours, but I’m with you on the apple feta crumble. ;)

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian November 17, 2011 at 1:19 pm #

      Thanks Hannah! I added a pork chop on the side for my husband, and he was a happy camper :-) For me it was a meal; but for him, he needs meat. Luckily it’s so easy to add the pork chop!

  4. mjskit November 17, 2011 at 8:28 pm #

    I definitely will be making this! Love polenta and I can see how pumpkin and your other ingredients will take something really good and make it better. Great recipe!

  5. Bevi November 21, 2011 at 1:38 pm #

    Just yum. I love the way you have scaffolded your recipes to all be included in this grand finale!

  6. @Mango_Queen November 24, 2011 at 5:34 pm #

    I love polenta! Love that you made it pumpkin flavored and definitely went well with the apple-feta flavors!

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian November 25, 2011 at 10:26 am #

      Thanks @Mango_Queen! I love polenta too – I hope you have a chance to try this version of it!!

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