Polenta is a versatile and nutritious side dish that can easily mesh with any meal.
While it’s often served as an accompaniment, few of us are familiar with the best sides to serve with polenta!
To end your confusion about what goes well with this delicious ingredient, we’ve prepared 14 tantalizing options for you to try along your next journey in Italian cuisine.
With recipes spanning from roasted Brussels sprouts to zesty caponata, there’s no doubt you will find something here that enhances the flavor of mashed up cornmeal cooked into creamy perfection.
Let’s dive right in and explore these sumptuous possibilities!
What to Serve with Polenta? Try These 14 Sides
1. Grilled Corn, Tomato, and Avocado Salad
This salad is the perfect blend of sweet, juicy, and savory flavors.
The corn is grilled to perfection and provides a lovely smoky flavor that pairs perfectly with the fresh tomatoes and creamy avocado.
This dish is simple to make but can be elevated by adding some extra toppings such as crumbled feta cheese or crispy bacon bits.
The key to making this salad taste amazing is to use the freshest ingredients possible.
Make sure to use ripe avocados that are soft but not mushy and juicy tomatoes that are slightly acidic.
The sweetness of the corn should balance out the acidity of the tomatoes, and the creaminess of the avocado will help tie all the flavors together.
If you’re looking for a bit of extra crunch, you can add some crumbled feta cheese on top.
For an extra bit of indulgence, you can also top it with some crispy bacon bits.
2. Spicy Roasted Broccoli
Broccoli is one of those divisive vegetables.
You either love it, or you hate it.
And even if you’re part of the broccoli-loving camp, you might not be a fan of the traditional steamed or boiled preparation.
If that’s the case, then this recipe for spicy roasted broccoli is definitely for you.
The high heat of the oven caramelizes the natural sugars in the broccoli, giving it a slightly sweet flavor that pairs perfectly with the savory spices.
The result is a side dish that is both simple and delicious.
And while it’s great on its own, there are also a few easy ways to elevate the dish if you’re looking for something extra special.
Try adding some shredded Parmesan cheese or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice before serving.
3. Sautéed Mushrooms
Sautéed mushrooms make for a delicious and easy side dish.
They can be cooked in a variety of ways, but sautéing them is a quick and simple method that yields great results.
Mushrooms have a distinct taste and texture that many people enjoy.
They are often described as being earthy, umami, or meaty.
Sautéing them brings out these flavors and makes them even more enjoyable to eat.
There are a few things you can do to elevate your sautéed mushrooms.
First, consider using different types of mushrooms.
This will give the dish more depth of flavor.
Second, add some fresh herbs like thyme or rosemary.
This will brighten up the flavors of the dish.
Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment with different seasonings like salt, pepper, or even truffle oil.
By doing this, you can create a dish that is uniquely yours and that your guests will love.
4. Chorizo Sweet Potato Skillet
Chorizo and sweet potato are classic flavor combinations.
The richness of the chorizo pairs perfectly with the sweetness of the sweet potato, and the dish can be elevated with a few simple ingredients.
For example, adding a pinch of smoked paprika to the chorizo before cooking will give it an extra depth of flavor.
You can also try swapping out the sweet potato for another root vegetable, such as turnip or parsnip.
To add some freshness to the dish, try topping it with a few sprigs of cilantro or a dollop of sour cream.
Whatever ingredients you choose, this dish is sure to be a hit with family and friends.
5. Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes
Cheesy scalloped potatoes are the perfect comfort food.
They’re creamy, flavorful, and always a hit with family and friends.
But what makes them even better is that they’re so easy to make.
With just a few simple ingredients, you can have a delicious side dish that will elevate any meal.
One of the best things about cheesy scalloped potatoes is their rich flavor.
The cheese adds a depth of flavor that takes the dish to the next level.
And because they’re boiled in milk, they become incredibly creamy and smooth.
If you’re looking for ways to elevate your cheesy scalloped potatoes, there are a few things you can do.
First, try using a sharp cheddar cheese for an extra sharp flavor.
You can also add some chopped bacon or ham for a little bit of salty goodness.
Finally, don’t forget the herbs.
A little thyme or rosemary can really take this dish to the next level.
6. Caramelized Mushrooms & Onions with Bacon
Caramelized mushrooms and onions with bacon are a dish that is packed with flavor.
The mushrooms and onions are cooked down until they are nice and soft, and the bacon adds a salty and smoky flavor to the dish.
This dish is also hearty and filling, making it perfect for a winter meal.
One of the best things about this dish is the variety of textures that you get in each bite.
The mushrooms and onions are soft and almost melt in your mouth, while the bacon adds a crunchy texture.
The dish is also packed with flavor, thanks to the caramelized onions and mushrooms.
There are a few things that you can do to elevate this dish.
One thing is to use quality ingredients.
Use good quality mushrooms, preferably a mix of different kinds of mushrooms.
For the onions, use sweet onions such as Vidalia or Walla Walla onions.
And for the bacon, use thick-cut bacon so that it doesn’t get too crispy when you cook it.
Another way to elevate this dish is to add some fresh herbs before you serve it.
Parsley, thyme, or rosemary would all be great additions.
You could also top the dish with some grated Parmesan cheese or crumbled goat cheese.
7. Stuffed Bell Peppers
Stuffed bell peppers are a classic dish that can be enjoyed by everyone.
They are typically made with a variety of different meats, cheeses, and vegetables, which makes them packed with flavor.
The texture of the dish is also quite enjoyable, as the soft peppers pair well with the crunchy filling.
There are many ways to elevate this dish and make it even more enjoyable.
One way is to experiment with different fillings.
Instead of using ground beef, try using ground lamb or pork for a unique flavor.
You could also add in some diced chicken or shrimp for an extra protein boost.
Another way to change up the flavors is to use different types of cheese in the filling.
A strong cheddar or feta cheese would be a great addition.
Finally, don’t be afraid to get creative with your vegetables.
Bell peppers come in many different colors, so feel free to mix and match them.
You could also add in some chopped kale or spinach for an extra nutrient boost.
8. Parmesan Herbed Potatoes
Parmesan herbed potatoes are a delicious and easy side dish that can be made in under an hour.
These potatoes are packed with flavor thanks to the Parmesan cheese and herbs, and they make a great addition to any meal.
The taste and texture of these potatoes are amazing.
The Parmesan cheese adds a nice sharpness, while the herbs give the potatoes a wonderful aroma and flavor.
The potatoes themselves are nice and fluffy on the inside while being crispy on the outside.
There are a few things you can do to elevate this dish even further.
First, try using Yukon Gold or Red Bliss potatoes for an even tastier potato.
Second, add some chopped green onions or chives to the mix for a bit of color and extra flavor.
Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment with different herbs – rosemary, thyme, and oregano all work well with this dish.
9. Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Roasted Brussels sprouts are a classic side dish that can be enjoyed all year round.
These little green veggies are packed with flavor and have a crispy, savory texture that is simply irresistible.
While they can be enjoyed on their own, there are a few simple tips that can help elevate this dish and make it even more delicious.
First, be sure to roast your Brussels sprouts until they are nice and crispy.
This will help to bring out their natural flavors and create a more enjoyable texture.
If you find that your Brussels sprouts are not getting crispy enough in the oven, you can try roasting them on the stovetop instead.
Simply heat a bit of oil in a pan over medium-high heat and add the Brussels sprouts.
Cook for about 10 minutes, occasionally stirring, until they are nice and crispy.
Another great way to elevate this dish is to add some additional flavorings.
Some popular options include garlic, Parmesan cheese, balsamic vinegar, and lemon juice.
Simply mix these ingredients together and toss them with the roasted Brussels sprouts before serving.
This will give the dish an extra burst of flavor that everyone is sure to love.
Finally, if you want to make this dish even heartier, you can add some protein such as bacon or sausage.
Simply cook these items separately and then mix them in with the roasted Brussels sprouts just before serving.
This will turn this side dish into a complete meal that is sure to satisfy even the hungriest of appetites.
10. Maple Dijon Roasted Butternut Squash
Butternut squash is a winter staple in many households.
This dish is a great way to change up the typical roasted butternut squash.
The addition of maple syrup and Dijon mustard gives it a sweet and savory flavor that will have your family and friends asking for seconds.
The key to this dish is to make sure the butternut squash is roasted until it is fork-tender.
This will ensure that the flavors of the maple syrup and Dijon mustard are able to permeate the squash.
If you find that the squash is not as sweet as you would like, feel free to add a bit more maple syrup.
This dish can be served as a side or an entree.
To make it a more well-rounded meal, try serving it with some grilled chicken or fish.
11. Garlic Parmesan Green Beans
Looking for a delicious and easy side dish to make? Look no further than these garlic parmesan green beans.
This dish is packed with flavor and only takes a few minutes to make.
The best part? It goes well with just about anything.
These beans are the perfect balance of crispy and tender.
The Parmesan cheese adds a nice salty flavor, while the garlic gives it a bit of a kick.
You can also add some crushed red pepper flakes to give it an extra bit of heat.
- Use fresh green beans for the best flavor and texture.
- If you don’t have Parmesan cheese, you can substitute it with another type of cheese like cheddar or mozzarella.
- Add some chopped bacon to the dish for an extra savory flavor.
12. Honey Balsamic Roasted Beets
Honey balsamic roasted beets are the perfect side dish for a winter meal.
Beets are roasted in the oven with a honey and balsamic vinegar glaze.
The result is a sweet and savory dish that is sure to please.
The taste of honey balsamic roasted beets is both sweet and savory.
The beets are cooked until they are tender and then glazed with a honey and balsamic vinegar mixture.
This gives the beets a slight sweetness that is balanced by the acidity of the vinegar.
The dish is also slightly earthy from the beets themselves.
To elevate this dish, you can add some crumbled goat cheese on top.
The sweetness of the beets will pair well with the tanginess of the cheese.
You can also garnish with some chopped fresh parsley or thyme.
This dish can be served as is or alongside a protein such as chicken or salmon.
13. Sweet Potato Casserole
This dish is a great side for a number of reasons.
First, it’s a great source of vitamins A and C.
It’s also packed with fiber, which is always a plus.
But the best part about sweet potato casserole is its taste and texture.
The sweet potatoes are cooked until they’re soft and fluffy, and then they’re combined with a creamy sauce and topped with a crunchy topping.
The result is a dish that’s both sweet and savory, and it’s sure to please everyone at the table.
There are a few things you can do to elevate this dish.
First, try using different types of sweet potatoes.
You can use white sweet potatoes, orange sweet potatoes, or even purple sweet potatoes.
Each type of sweet potato will give the casserole a different flavor and texture.
You can also experiment with the toppings.
Instead of using traditional bread crumbs, try using chopped nuts or seeds.
This will add some extra nutrition and flavor to the dish.
14. Cranberry Sauce
Cranberry sauce is a Thanksgiving staple, and for a good reason.
This tart, sweet, and slightly acidic side dish is the perfect balance to all of the savory dishes on the table.
Cranberry sauce is also incredibly versatile and can be used in so many different ways.
Here are some tips on how to make the most of this delicious side dish.
First, let’s talk about taste and texture.
Cranberry sauce should be sweet, but not too sweet.
The acidity from the cranberries should also be present but not overwhelming.
And finally, the sauce should have a bit thick, gel-like consistency.
Now that we know what we’re going for taste-wise let’s talk about how to elevate this dish.
One way to do this is by adding some fresh herbs into the mix.
Rosemary, thyme, and sage all pair well with cranberries and will give your sauce an extra flavor boost.
Another way to add some interest to your sauce is by stirring in some diced fruit like apples or pears.
This will add sweetness, texture, and visual appeal to your dish.
Finally, don’t forget that cranberry sauce can be used in so many different ways beyond just eating it straight up with a spoon.
Use it as a condiment for turkey or ham, stir it into oatmeal or yogurt, or even use it as a base for a smoothie.
There are many delicious side dishes that go great with polenta.
In this blog post, I have outlined some of the best options available.
I have also provided some tips on how to elevate each dish.
I hope this blog post has been helpful in deciding what to serve with your next polenta dish.
What to Serve with Polenta? Try These 14 Sides
- 1. Grilled Corn Tomato, and Avocado Salad
- 2. Spicy Roasted Broccoli
- 3. Sautéed Mushrooms
- 4. Chorizo Sweet Potato Skillet
- 5. Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes
- 6. Caramelized Mushrooms u0026 Onions with Bacon
- 7. Stuffed Bell Peppers
- 8. Parmesan Herbed Potatoes
- 9. Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- 10. Maple Dijon Roasted Butternut Squash
- 11. Garlic Parmesan Green Beans
- 12. Honey Balsamic Roasted Beets
- 13. Sweet Potato Casserole
- 14. Cranberry Sauce
- Select your favorite sides from the list above.
- Prepare the side dish according to the recipe instructions.
- If you’re short on time, some of these can be made ahead of time and reheated before serving.
- Serve and enjoy!
Carrie is a food writer and editor with more than 15 years of experience. She has worked for some of the biggest names in the food industry, including Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, and Martha Stewart Living.
As the Editor in Chief of IntroChicago.com, Carrie oversees all of the content on the site. She also manages the team of contributing writers and editors, who help to create delicious recipes, helpful tips, and informative articles that you’ll find on the site.
A native of the Chicago area, Carrie is passionate about all things food. She loves trying new restaurants and experimenting with new recipes in her kitchen. She’s also a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, so she knows a thing or two about food!