Sassy Squash and Polenta Appetizer with Green Salsa


A simple – yet fabulously delicious – vegetarian, gluten-free and vegan-adaptable recipe that is aromatic and elegant. Crispy polenta topped with spinach, sautéed squash, tomatoes, green salsa and dairy or non-dairy yoghurt. I call this dish sassy because its got a big personality! Simple ingredients can go a long way when utilized to the best of their abilities.

In the photo I used some greek yoghurt but as I mentioned, this dish is totally vegan-adaptable. For the vegan version, swap the dairy yoghurt for a coconut or almond based unsweetened yoghurt, or cashew cream/cheese – both perfect options. The link to a simple cashew cheese spread is included in the recipe.

Is polenta gluten-free?

The answer is yes. It is made entirely from corn which does not contain gluten. Gluten is found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye, so this is a great option in lieu of bread based appetizers.


Sassy seasoned squash on polenta with green salsa
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Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 4 portions

Serving Size: Appetizer

A simple – yet fabulously delicious – vegetarian and vegan-adaptable recipe that is very aromatic and elegant. It's crispy polenta topped with spinach, sautéed squash with cumin, tomatoes, green salsa and greek yoghurt.


    Seasoned Squash:
  • 1 small delicata squash. peeled
  • 1 package (18 oz./ 510 g) pre-cooked polenta, or homemade polenta
  • 1/2 cup of onions, diced
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp salt
    Other ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup baby spinach
  • 2/3 cup green salsa, store bought or homemade
  • handful fresh cilantro, washes and chopped
  • 2/3 cup green yogurt, or plain un-sweetened vegan yogurt (cultured coconut or almond), or cashew cheese spread
  • handful of cherry tomatoes, halved (optional)


  • Preheat oven to 400F (200C)
  • Unwrap pre-cooked or store-bought polenta*, cut into square slabs (2 inches x 2 inches and 1/2 inch thick). The shape and size is not that important, just ensure they are not thinner than 1/2 inch so they are not too flimsy. If you are working with homemade polenta set it to be 1/2 and inch thick.
  • Grease a large cast iron skillet or baking sheet with a generous amount of olive oil. I recommend a cast iron skillet because the heat distributes more evenly, allowing polenta to become crunchy on the outside.
  • Roast polenta for 20 - 30 minutes, checking frequently: roasting varies greatly from one oven to another.
  • While polenta is roasting, peel delicata squash, cut in half, clean out seeds, and cut into half inch cubes.
  • Heat olive oil in a skillet to medium-hot, add cumin, toast for about 1 minute then add onions. Sauté onions for around 2 minutes or until they starts to brown. Add in cubed delicata squash, salt and sauté until just tender, remove from heat.
  • Divide your roasted polenta into four equal portions – there will be about 2 - 3 pieces per plate.
  • Divide remaining ingredients among the four plates. Starting with fresh baby spinach, followed by roasted squash, followed by green salsa, tomatoes, yogurt, and cilantro.


*Usually store-bought polenta comes in a cylinder: lay cylinder on it's side, cut length-wise into three equal parts and cut those into three.


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