Tasty Made Simple (again): Polenta Cakes with Creamed Broccoli

As a teacher’s finances dwindle for the summer, I’ve had to learn to make do with what’s already available around the kitchen. As a result, many a recent recipes have taken form after hunting through cupboards filled with an unfortunate array of Tuna Helper and Dinty Moore Beef Stew (let’s just not talk about these….). This time I remembered that there’s a substantial supply of frozen veggies in the freezer. Corn, broccoli, green beans, spinach, peas, lima beans and black-eyed peas. Of course, broccoli and corn were the most obvious choices, so I flipped a coin and broccoli it was. But what am I gonna do with just broccoli? Steamed broccoli isn’t much worthy of a written recipe, and I didn’t have the energy to clean the food processor to make soup.

I hunted around a bit more in the dry goods cabinet and found some polenta. Perfect!


The broccoli in the recipe can be easily substituted for cauliflower. It would be a little creamier, so it depends on your texture preference. I always want to make the recipes as accessible as possible to those who don’t spend too much time and too much money on stocking their kitchen with tools, so I say to use a potato masher on the broccoli but really, a hand blender works best. You could also use a food processor or regular blender.

I do have to give some credit to the frozen broccoli for one very helpful thing: unlike fresh broccoli, you don’t have to peel it. It makes it significantly easier.

It’s so easily veganizable, too! Just substitute the milk for unsweetened soymilk and butter for earth balance (which, in reality, any time my recipes say “butter” they mean “earth balance”).

And without further ado:

Polenta Cakes with Creamed Broccoli

    ¼ C. butter
    ½ C. diced white onion
    1 ½ t crushed garlic
    2 C. frozen broccoli florets
    ½ C. vegetable broth
    2T milk or cream
    Juice of ½ lemon
    ½ C. Parmesan, plus some to sprinkle on top

    1 C. cooked polenta
    2T butter
    sprinkle of olive oil, salt and pepper

    1. Sprinkle a saucepan with extra virgin olive oil and ½ T butter and set it on medium.
    2. Add onion and 1T of broth, cook until just soft.
    3. Once warmed, add in broccoli and half of the broth.
    4. Salt and pepper the broccoli and add garlic, slowly adding more broth until softened.
    5. Smash broccoli with a potato masher, slowly adding milk and the rest of the butter until it reaches your desired consistency.
    6. Add lemon and ½ cup of Parmesan, stir until mixed.

For Polenta Cakes:

    1. Spread cooked polenta in a ¼” layer on a sheet pan and refrigerate until solid.
    2. When solid, use a knife or cookie cutter to cut out biscuit sized rounds.
    3. In a deep sauté pan, add a sprinkle of olive oil and heat.
    4. When heated, add ½ T of butter and the polenta slices.
    5. Cook on med-high and continue adding butter slowly until polenta is crispy and browned on both sides.

Heat the broccoli and pour over plated polenta.

Eat it and love it!