There is one salad that I always order whenever it’s on the menu: arugula salad with roasted beets and goat cheese. Occasionally, I can get a dining partner to enjoy it with me, other times, I’m a solo salad eater. There’s just something about the fantastic flavor and texture combination of the spicy arugula; smooth and creamy goat cheese; and the sweet, earthy, crunchy beets.
Yet, there comes a time (read: January through March) when you need something other than a salad to keep you warm. This goat cheese polenta with beets and arugula pesto turns my favorite salad into a cozy, cold weather dish with all the above mentioned delightful components. Winner, winner, winter polenta dinner.
This goat cheese polenta is also the first in a monthly series of Saturday Night Suppers, inspired by our recent anniversary. The series will feature specially crafted recipes to share with your best friends for a fantastic Saturday night supper or a date night dinner at home. Plus beverage pairings!
But don’t worry, these recipes will always keep in mind the delicious dinners we need on busy weeknights too! For example, one of my favorite things about this goat cheese polenta recipe, is that everything can easily be made ahead. The arugula pesto can be made up to a week in advance or frozen, then thawed. The beets can be roasted ahead and then warmed to serve with the polenta. And reheating polenta is as easy as adding a bit of water or broth and stirring vigorously as it warms.
This month, for Saturday Night Suppers, I paired the goat cheese polenta with Meiomi’s 2015 Pinot Noir. The wine had a pleasant, mineral quality on the nose with blackberry and black cherry flavors that burst forward on the palate. It’s a smooth, oh-so-drinkable wine with light tannins and vanilla notes that complement the earthy beets, smooth polenta and punchy arugula pesto. If Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream were a wine, it would be this one. So think on that for dessert after you make this goat cheese polenta with beets and arugula pesto!
Let me know if you try this recipe! Leave a comment below, rate it, and check out The Seasoned Vegetable on Facebook!
Goat Cheese Polenta with Roasted Beets and Arugula Pesto
- 1 cup coarse ground cornmeal (see note)
- 5 cups water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 6 whole small beets, sliced 1/4-inch thin
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
- 4 ounces goat cheese
- 1/2 cup arugula pesto (see note)
Combine cornmeal and water in a large pot. Let sit overnight to allow cornmeal to absorb liquid.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Toss beets with olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Spread evenly on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Roast beets in the oven for 15 to 25 minutes, until soft and slightly caramelized.
Bring cornmeal to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. As the polenta starts to bubble and spit, reduce to heat to low and continue to stir frequently. Allow polenta to cook about 30 minutes until thickened and cornmeal is fully cooked. When polenta is cooked, add 1 teaspoon salt and stir or whisk in goat cheese until well combined.
Serve polenta immediately with roasted beets and top with arugula pesto.
I love this preparation of pre-soaking the polenta because it cuts the cooking time in half! However, if you don’t pre-soak, the goat cheese polenta will take about 50 minutes to cook. I pipe the arugula pesto onto the polenta to create fun designs using a ziploc bag with a corner cut off. If you make the pesto ahead of time, be sure to let it come to room temperature before adding to the dish.
This polenta can be made without the goat cheese. Add 2 tablespoons of your favorite vegan butter or olive oil. Check the recipe notes for the arugula pesto for vegan substitutions.
Corn is naturally gluten free. However, you may want to find a certified gluten free cornmeal, depending on the severity of your gluten intolerance since there cab be trace amounts of wheat gluten in processing facilities. Bob’s Red Mill has a cornmeal that is processed in a gluten free facility.
CHECK THE FRIDGE
I used a very mild goat cheese in this recipe, and found it added only a slight flavor to the goat cheese polenta but really created a smooth, creamy texture. If you prefer a different kind of cheese, I recommend a soft cheese such as ricotta. Or, you can use grated parmesan and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of butter. This goat cheese polenta is a great base for dinner. You can add any assortment of roasted vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, carrots, or cauliflower. It’s especially good with stewy ratatouille or saucy, braised meats.