Sassy Squash and Polenta Appetizer with Green Salsa [Vegan/Gluten-Free]

A simple delicious gluten-free and vegan-adaptable recipe that is aromatic and elegant. Crispy polenta topped with spinach, sautéed squash, tomatoes, green salsa and yogurt. For the vegan version, use non-dairy yogurt or cashew cream.

I call this dish sassy because it’s got a big personality! Simple ingredients can go a long way when utilized to the best of their abilities.

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

A simple delicious gluten-free and vegan-adaptable recipe that is very aromatic and elegant. It features crispy polenta topped with spinach, sautéed squash with cumin, tomatoes, green salsa and greek yogurt.
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Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Servings 4 portions


Seasoned Squash:

  • 1 small delicata squash. peeled
  • 500 grams cooked polenta buy pre-cooked polenta or precook homemade polenta and set it in a baking dish
  • 1/2 cup 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 unsweetened vegan yogurt 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 and cut into 2 inches by 2 inches squares.
  • 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 start 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 the 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 its side, cut lengthwise into three equal parts and cut those into three.
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