Vegetarian Polenta Skillet

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Serving: 4 to 6 People
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cooking Time: 40 Minutes

From Faith: There’s this quaint and cozy restaurant about fifteen minutes from where I live. Every time I go there for breakfast, I order the same exact thing: their insanely delicious breakfast polenta skillet. No lie. It’s served in a screaming-hot cast-iron skillet; inside, there is cubed polenta topped with vegetables, romesco sauce, cheese, and two fried eggs—how good does that sound? Eventually, I decided I wanted to try to re-create my beloved breakfast from this restaurant at home. So I did, but I served it family-style in a giant skillet. (Eggs are optional but highly recommended.) Learn more about Laurie’s cookbook, Simply Scratch, and check out the recipes Faith and the gang talked about during The Food Schmooze® brunch celebration.

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Note: Wash hands with soap and water.
1. Make the Cheesy Polenta Measure the corn grits and add the salt to the measuring cup.
2. In a medium saucepan, bring the milk and broth to a boil. Watch carefully, because it will start to boil quickly. Whisk in the corn grits and salt; keep whisking until the corn grits have absorbed all the liquid.
3. Add the cheese and pepper. Stir until smooth and serve immediately.
4. Make the Vegetarian Polenta Skillet Line an 8 by 11-inch rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly grease the foil with butter or olive oil.
5. Prepare the polenta as directed on page 199, but omit the cheddar cheese. Immediately pour the polenta into the prepared pan. With a spatula, spread it evenly and let it sit for 25 minutes, then invert the pan onto a cutting board. Peel off the foil and cut the polenta into 1-inch cubes. Set aside.
6. Position the oven rack in the top portion of oven, crack the door, and heat the broiler on high.
7. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat.
8. Add the zucchini, yellow squash, onion, and bell pepper and season with the salt and pepper. Toss to coat the vegetables in the butter and then spread in an even layer. Let the vegetables cook undisturbed for 3 to 4 minutes, or until they start to turn a deep golden color. Stir and continue to cook until tender but still firm, 6 to 8 minutes more.
9. Transfer the vegetables to a medium bowl and stir in the romesco sauce (see Simply Scratch Tip for a link to the recipe). Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter in the now empty skillet.
10. Arrange the polenta cubes in an even layer in the skillet. Spoon the vegetable mixture over the top.
11. Sprinkle with the grated cheddar and slide the skillet under the broiler for 2 to 4 minutes, or until the cheese is completely melted and lightly golden brown.
12. Season with pepper and sprinkle with fresh parsley or basil. If desired, while the polenta is in the oven, heat a little olive oil or bacon fat in a skillet over medium heat. Crack in a few eggs at a time, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook until the whites are set. Flip and cook for a few seconds, depending on how you prefer your yolks.
13. Serve immediately as is, or spoon onto plates and top with a fried egg.
Recipe Notes SIMPLY SCRATCH TIP To save time, I make my romesco sauce a few days in advance and keep it in the fridge until the morning of. Then I just pull it out when I start making the polenta, to take the chill off. Making the sauce in advance cuts down the prep time for this recipe immensely.
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