August 4, 2021

Smoky Squash with Goat Cheese Polenta

Sweet winter squash combines with smoky spices and tangy goat cheese in this warming fall meal. I used delicata squash again here, because it’s easy to prep on a weeknight (no peeling!), and because it makes a beautiful presentation in these half-moon shapes.

This could be a weeknight meal as it is, or you could skip the polenta and make the roasted squash rings as a Thanksgiving side dish. Definitely still garnish the roasted squash with goat cheese, toasted pepitas, and honey - the combination of flavors and textures there is really the star of this dish.

If you do make the polenta, might I suggest making extra? I like to make a double batch of polenta if I’m making it, because I love using the leftovers for a brunch. Pour your leftover polenta into a square or rectangle container to store in the refrigerator. When polenta cools, it firms up, making it ready to fry in a pan to get crispy edges the next day. When brunch rolls around, take your cold polenta and cut it into squares. Fry it in a pan on the stove with a little oil, until the edges crisp up and become golden. Top with a fried egg, maybe some cheese and/or hot sauce, and you’ve got a tasty new breakfast idea.

Four delicata squash on a cutting board
Delicata squash can vary in size. The ones at the grocery store tend to be larger, so you might need only 2 or 3. Mine from my garden were smaller, so I used 4.

Removing seeds from delicata squash with a spoon
You can prep your squash by removing the seeds using a spoon, then slicing into half-moons.

Removing seeds from delicata squash with a small biscuit cutter
Or, you can slice your squash into rings first, then half-moons, and use a small biscuit cutter to remove the seeds. I typically use this method for a more uniform presentation.

Delicata squash half-moons tossed with spices
Toss your squash rings with oil and spices.

Roasted delicata squash half-moons
Arrange squash rings on a baking and sheet and roast until tender and starting to caramelize.

Polenta cooking in a pot
Make the polenta, being sure to stir it often! It thickens pretty quickly, and likes to stick to the pot. Stir in butter, black pepper, and goat cheese at the end.

Bowl with a bed of polenta topped with roasted delicata squash rings, pumpkin seeds, and crumbled goat cheese
Garnish with more crumbled goat cheese, toasted pepitas, and a drizzle of honey. Bonus points if it's hot honey, like my favorite local jalapeño honey.

Original publication date: November 5, 2020

Smoky Squash with Goat Cheese Polenta

Sweet winter squash combines with smoky spices and tangy goat cheese in this warming fall meal.


Kira Freed - The Joyful Plateful











For roasted squash:

3-4 medium delicata squash

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

1 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika

1/2 tsp. ground coriander

1/2 tsp. ground turmeric

For polenta:

1 cup polenta (coarse-ground cornmeal)

4 cups water

1 tsp. kosher salt

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled

For garnish:

Toasted pepitas (or pumpkin seeds)

Extra goat cheese crumbles

Honey, for drizzling (recommended: hot/spicy honey!)


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Prepare delicata squash. Cut off stem end and bottom end of squash. Cut in half lengthwise. Remove seeds. Cut squash into half-moon rings.
  3. Place squash rings in a large bowl. Toss with olive oil to coat. Add spices, and toss again until all squash rings are coated in seasonings.
  4. Arrange squash rings on a baking sheet. Place in the oven to roast at 425 degrees F for 35-40 minutes.
  5. While squash is roasting, prepare polenta: Bring water to a boil in a medium-sized heavy-bottomed pot. Once boiling, add salt and polenta, and stir. Return to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer polenta, stirring frequently to avoid sticking to the pot. Simmer about 20-25 minutes, until polenta is thickened and grains are soft. Turn off the heat, and add the butter, black pepper, and goat cheese. Stir until butter and goat cheese have melted.
  6. To serve, make a bed of goat cheese polenta in a bowl. Top with roasted squash rings. Garnish with toasted pepitas, extra crumbles of goat cheese, and a drizzle of honey.
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May 24, 2022
I don't normally comment on recipes but this has got to be the best thing I've ever made. It came together pretty easy and made five meals - perfect for meal prep for the week. I already can't wait to make it again.
January 22, 2022
Sherry Ruiter
I love this section!!!!!