Simple Sundays | Pumpkin Sage Polenta

The hay crunched beneath our feet as we surveyed the rows of pumpkins, the sun finally making its presence known after the chill of autumn gave way to a few hours of heat. My children exuberantly ran ahead of me, declaring each pumpkin they touched “the one!” I reminded them that I would only put their final final selections in the wagon, as they steered me over to pumpkins half my size.

Pumpkin Sage Polenta |

It didn’t matter. I must have lifted over twenty pumpkins into and out of our wagon, behemoths of gourds, as I began to break a sweat, my hair sticking to my neck and my hands coated in dust. “This is the one mommy, I promise!” was followed by “Ooh, this one is perfect!” Had I anticipated this better, I may have skipped the gym that morning. My quads burned as I hoisted each specimen.

Finally, it was all settled: the largest pumpkin was appointed to Daddy, the second largest was determined perfect for the pattern my daughter pre-selected, and the squat, globe-shaped pumpkin was just what my son had envisioned. As for me, I was too exhausted to pick one out to carve; instead, I was already dreaming up ways to cook with pumpkin.

Pumpkin Sage Polenta |

Polenta. Creamy, dreamy polenta. I’ve been absorbed by it lately. When a reader asked if I could share the polenta recipe that nestled my Braised Chipotle Short Ribs, I was more than happy to oblige by whipping up a fresh serving, but this time stirring in a little bit of autumn.

Pumpkin Sage Polenta bubbled and hissed on the stove as my children worked on their final pumpkin carving today. My daughter ran to me and exclaimed, “Ooh, can I taste the mac and cheese?” The buttery polenta had her fooled. But she tried it anyway, and one spoonful apparently was not enough. She snuck in a few more bites then returned to the pumpkins on the table. There was more work to be done.

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Pumpkin Sage Polenta

Yield: Serves 4-6

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

A hint of pumpkin and the taste of sage brings the glow of autumn to a simple polenta. If pumpkin isn't your thing, any autumn squash would work nicely, or if you prefer, leave it out for a more straightforward polenta*.


3 cups water
1 cup polenta
2 teaspoons kosher salt*
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (canned is fine if you do not have freshly roasted pumpkin)
1 teaspoon sage, chopped
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed


In a medium saucepan, whisk together the water, polenta and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking periodically. Lower the heat and let the polenta simmer, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Add the pumpkin and sage, and continue stirring for about 15-20 minutes, until the polenta begins to pull away from the sides of the saucepan. Stir in the parmesan cheese and butter. Serve immediately while hot and creamy, or if you prefer, place in a square dish to cool and serve in slices.

* Recipe updated 11.23.14 - salt reduced after reader feedback. I originally used 3 teaspoons of salt in the polenta, however, if you are concerned that it may be too salty, go with 2 teaspoons and adjust as necessary. 

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by Liren Baker on October 27, 2013

52 Responses to “Simple Sundays | Pumpkin Sage Polenta”

  1. Pauline October 27, 2013 @ 9:34 am (#

    I love polenta so much, reminds me of romania, so this is definitely a great twist for fall :D

    • Liren replied: — October 27th, 2013 @ 10:30 am

      Hi Pauline, thank you! I have been loving polenta so much lately, and now I want to try it in the Romanian style — I believe that is sometimes with feta and bacon? Definitely sounds delicious.

  2. angela@spinachtiger October 27, 2013 @ 12:39 pm (#

    Beautiful dish. In Nashville, we would call it pumpkin grits and go crazy for it

    • Liren replied: — October 27th, 2013 @ 2:09 pm

      Thank you, Angela! Grits, polenta, whatever you call it, I’m crazy for it, too!

  3. Pauline October 27, 2013 @ 12:46 pm (#

    Yes exactly, usually in Romania they add feta or goat cheese and they make it more solid and less like puree usually. They serve it with sarmale (pork or bacon wrapped in cabbage) and a little cream. Si delicious and indulgent !!

    • Liren replied: — October 27th, 2013 @ 2:11 pm

      Sounds divine, Pauline. I must try it!

  4. Eileen October 27, 2013 @ 12:55 pm (#

    This polenta sounds amazing for fall. I bet it would be especially great with a juicy lamb chop!

    • Liren replied: — October 27th, 2013 @ 2:54 pm

      Oh yes! I love lamb chops, you’re right, this would be great together :)

  5. Beth Young October 27, 2013 @ 1:51 pm (#

    I’m going through such a polenta phase at the moment. Will absolutely have to give this a go! Don’t think I’ll be able to get the tinned pumpkin in Italy so will have to make the puree myself!

    • Liren replied: — October 27th, 2013 @ 2:54 pm

      It will be even better, then, Beth! Freshly roasted pumpkin…mmm :)

  6. Shelly October 27, 2013 @ 6:39 pm (#

    I love love love polenta. Fried, creamy, or baked. It’s sooo amazing cooked any way. I roasted a pumpkin a few weeks ago and have a bunch of leftover puree in my freezer – might have to pull some out to try this recipe!!

    • Liren replied: — October 29th, 2013 @ 10:48 pm

      How perfect! I really should consider roasting and freezing a bevy of pureed squashes, great idea :)

  7. Monet October 27, 2013 @ 8:16 pm (#

    A lovely recollection of your pumpkin picking excursion and an even lovelier dish made with thought and love. This polenta looks heavenly and would grace any fall meal. Thank you for sharing Liren!

    • Liren replied: — October 29th, 2013 @ 10:49 pm

      Thank you, Monet! Can’t wait to see how Lucy likes her first pumpkin picking excursion…I can imagine her toddling in the fields already :)

  8. Laura (Tutti Dolci) October 27, 2013 @ 8:23 pm (#

    I adore polenta! Last fall in Florence I had the most comforting bowl of polenta on a chilly evening, and I’ve been dreaming of it lately. Can’t wait to try this soon!

    • Liren replied: — October 29th, 2013 @ 10:50 pm

      Ah to be in Florence! Such a beautiful city, I can imagine the polenta was especially dreamy.

  9. Theresa @ Delicacious October 27, 2013 @ 10:48 pm (#

    Your pumpkin picking trip sounds so fun. Things I’ll never be able to do in Singapore! And the polenta looks so creamy and delicious. Are you posting pictures of the carved pumpkins too? :)

    • Liren replied: — October 29th, 2013 @ 10:51 pm

      I just might have to post pictures of the carved pumpkins. I’ll try!

  10. Dina October 28, 2013 @ 10:56 am (#

    this sounds wonderful. may make it for thanksgiving side dish!

    • Liren replied: — October 29th, 2013 @ 10:52 pm

      It would be great with turkey! And I would be honored to be part of your Thanksgiving table :)

  11. Joan Nova October 28, 2013 @ 12:34 pm (#

    Wonderful recipe — love the addition of pumpkin!

    • Liren replied: — October 29th, 2013 @ 10:52 pm

      Thank you so much, Joan :)

  12. dixya| food, pleasure, and health October 28, 2013 @ 12:52 pm (#

    i want to swim in that bowl of comfortness.

    • Liren replied: — October 29th, 2013 @ 10:53 pm

      Ha ha! It sure would be fluffy!

  13. Paula - bell'alimento October 29, 2013 @ 6:19 am (#

    Love this Liren! Just shared on my facebook page! <3

    • Liren replied: — October 29th, 2013 @ 10:47 pm

      So sweet of you, thank you so much for sharing, Paula!

  14. Tiffany @ Triple Crème Decadence October 29, 2013 @ 11:02 am (#

    This sounds comforting on a cold fall day. I think I would devour the whole bowl. :)

    • Liren replied: — October 29th, 2013 @ 10:54 pm

      It can really be comforting on these cold days, especially when you feel the need to eat something hearty!

  15. Lynn @ The Actor's Diet October 30, 2013 @ 11:20 pm (#

    I eat a lot of pumpkin and polenta, but never together!

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  17. Oui, Chef November 1, 2013 @ 12:44 pm (#

    This sounds quite outstanding, I can’t wait to try it!

  18. Tesia November 3, 2013 @ 5:42 pm (#

    I love this recipe, did you know it’s featured on Buzzfeed?

  19. Paula November 4, 2013 @ 11:03 am (#

    Is this the correct amount of salt? I made this tonight, but it really came out too salty.

    • Liren replied: — November 4th, 2013 @ 11:27 am

      Hi Paula, did you include the pumpkin? I can see that if perhaps the pumpkin was left out, the polenta will be on the salty side (when I make it plain, I definitely use less). Thanks for your comment – I will make sure to annotate it that in the recipe itself.

  20. Paula November 4, 2013 @ 1:00 pm (#

    I did include the pumpkin, but I did put in a little extra cheese. Maybe that was it? Even if it was a little on the salty side for my palate, I still really loved it thanks for the recipe! I’ll just pare down the salt next time I make it. And there will be a next time!

    • Liren replied: — November 5th, 2013 @ 7:48 pm

      It could be the cheese, parmesan is salty, too. I’m so glad that you still loved it and will make it! Thanks for the feedback!

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  22. Lucy November 9, 2013 @ 4:25 am (#

    I also made this last night. It came out grew but I had to skip the cheese all together because I think the amount of salt is off. It was very salty. I ended up adding a little milk and extra pumpkin to bring down the salt content. Thank you though. Great idea!

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  27. Otillie November 4, 2014 @ 5:04 pm (#

    I agree with the above posts. Salt is off..too salty. Otherwise the taste is good.

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  30. Jenn November 23, 2014 @ 5:56 pm (#

    Wish I had read the comments before making, I can tell this would be delicious! The flavors work so well together but it’s soooo salty.  Will definitely adjust next time is that I can enjoy it.

    • Liren Baker replied: — November 23rd, 2014 @ 10:54 pm

      Thanks so much, Jenn! I know everyone has different tastes when it comes to saltiness – I’ll be sure to update the recipe so others can salt sparingly if they wish!

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  34. Caitlin November 19, 2015 @ 4:02 am (#

    Is this reheatable? I would love to make it for my family’s Thanksgiving, but it would need to be able to travel! Thanks 

    • Liren Baker replied: — November 20th, 2015 @ 1:22 pm

      Yes, it is! If when reheating you need to thin it out, just add a little chicken broth! Happy Thanksgiving!

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