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Cozy up with a creamy bowl of cauliflower polenta. This lightened-up take on traditional polenta is made with roasted cauliflower and then topped with sautéed mushrooms and toasted hazelnuts. It's an easy dairy-free recipe that's perfect for fall or winter, and it's ready in just over an hour!
This cauliflower polenta recipe with mushrooms and hazelnuts is a healthier spin on polenta that's both filling and flavorful. It's perfect for chilly nights when all you want to do is cozy up with a bowl of something warm, but you don't feel like soup.
In this vegan version, we skip the usual polenta ingredients like butter, cream, and cheese. Instead, we roast the cauliflower with garlic and onion which gives it a naturally sweet, nutty, and rich flavor. Then we add nutritional yeast for its cheesy taste (and a healthy boost of B12), and it all gets whizzed in the food processor until it's creamy.
We spoon it into bowls and top it with earthy mushrooms and hazelnuts for a nutritious veggie-packed dish that does not disappoint!
Cauliflower polenta ingredients
Here's what you'll need to make this cozy cauliflower polenta:
- Hazelnuts – we always toast a few extra and keep them for tossing into salads throughout the week.
- Cauliflower – when roasted with olive oil, cauliflower becomes rich, sweet, and almost nutty. It's so delicious!
- Garlic + onion – these aromatics add lots of flavor to the ‘polenta'.
- Mushrooms – we like to use baby bellas or a mix of different mushrooms, but you can use what's available or what looks most fresh.
- Nutritional yeast – adds a unique savory flavor that's almost cheese-like. It also happens to be a good source of B12 so it's especially ideal for vegans. You can also use the real deal (aka parmesan cheese) if you prefer!
How to make cauliflower polenta
This cauliflower polenta with mushrooms and hazelnuts is hearty, healthy, and easy to make. Don't be deterred by the cooking time because most of it is hands-off while the cauliflower roasts.
Here's how we make it in a few easy steps:
- While your oven preheats, toast the hazelnuts for a few minutes until fragrant. Just be sure to watch them closely so they don't burn! Roughly chop them when cool.
- Get the cauliflower ready by tossing the florets with some olive oil on your baking sheet.
- Chop the ends off the garlic cloves (keeping the skins on), drizzle them with oil, and wrap them in aluminum foil.
- Tuck the garlic packet into the cauliflower and bake. About halfway through, add the onion.
- While the cauliflower bakes, saute the mushrooms in a bit of oil.
- When the cauliflower is cooked, give it a good whiz in your food processor with nutritional yeast (or parmesan) and a little water until it's smooth and creamy.
- Now, divide the cauliflower polenta into two bowls and top with mushrooms, chopped hazelnuts, and parsley. Enjoy!
Full recipe instructions are in the recipe card below.
A few tips for making this recipe
You'll see that the recipe takes an hour to make, and that might seem like a lot if you want to make this after a long day at work. Most of that time though is hands-off while you're waiting for the cauliflower to roast. The hands-on time is only about 30 minutes, at most.
Here's how to save the most amount of time:
- Put the hazelnuts in the oven right away. There's no need to worry about waiting for the oven to heat up; the hazelnuts can start toasting while it's heating.
- Once you chop the cauliflower put it and the garlic into the oven right away. Just like the hazelnuts, they can start roasting while the oven warms.
- Start the mushrooms sautéing next. While they're sizzling in the pan, you can chop the onions and roasted hazelnuts.
- Next, clean everything up, pop the onions into the oven, then go chill out for a bit.
- Once the cauliflower is nice and dark roasted you'll be eating your cauliflower polenta in only 5 minutes.
Is this cauliflower polenta keto?
No, it's not. While it is lower in carbs than regular polenta, it still rings in at 30 net grams of carbs per serving, which is too high for keto. But it is a wonderfully healthy polenta recipe that is both vegan and paleo.
How long do leftovers keep in the fridge?
Store leftovers in an air-tight container in the fridge for 3 days.
Can I make it ahead of time?
Yes, you can make the cauliflower polenta ahead of time. To reheat it, we recommend putting it in a pot on the stove, adding a bit of water, and stirring until it's warmed through. You can also toast the hazelnuts in advance.
What to serve with cauliflower polenta
This cauliflower polenta with mushrooms and hazelnuts is a complete and comforting meal on its own.
It pairs well with a simple seasonal kale apple salad or vegetable side like whole roasted brussels sprouts. If you want to add some vegetarian protein, try it with roasted chickpeas, grilled tofu, or tempeh.
It's also perfect as a vegan option on the holiday table at Thanksgiving or Christmas. It's a surprisingly delicious side dish that everyone, even meat-eaters, will love!
More cauliflower recipes
- Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Sesame and Ginger
- Najib's Special Lebanese Cauliflower
- Lemon Parmesan Cauliflower Steaks
- ¼ cup hazelnuts
- 1 medium cauliflower (roughly chopped)
- 6 teaspoons olive oil (divided)
- 4 cloves garlic
- ½ medium yellow onion (roughly chopped)
- 3 cups chopped mushrooms
- ⅓ – ½ cup water
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast (or sub parmesan cheese)
- Sea salt and pepper (to taste)
- Chopped parsley (to serve)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the hazelnuts in a small baking dish and toast in the oven for 7-10 minutes, or until they are golden and fragrant. Once the hazelnuts are out of the oven, increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Roughly chop the hazelnuts once they are cool enough to touch.¼ cup hazelnuts
- Place the chopped cauliflower on a large baking tray lined with parchment paper and drizzle it with 2 teaspoons of olive oil.1 medium cauliflower
- Cut the ends of the garlic off (keep the skin on) and then place the cloves in a small piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle them with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and wrap them up tightly.4 cloves garlic
- Add the garlic package to the tray with the cauliflower and put it into the oven. After 20 minutes, add the onion to the baking sheet then put it back into the oven for another 20 minutes.½ medium yellow onion
- While the cauliflower is roasting, prepare the mushrooms. Heat the remaining 3 teaspoons (1 tablespoon) of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir occasionally, until the mushrooms are dark brown, about 8 minutes.3 cups chopped mushrooms
- Place the roasted cauliflower, onions, and garlic (remove the skin from the garlic first) into a food processor. Add ⅓ cup of water and the nutritional yeast or parmesan cheese and blend until it is creamy. Add more water, if needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.⅓ – ½ cup water, 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast, Sea salt and pepper
- Divide the cauliflower polenta between 2 plates. Top with the mushrooms, chopped hazelnuts, and parsley.Chopped parsley
We have thoroughly tested this recipe for accuracy. However, individual results may vary. See our full recipe disclosure here.