Cheese Polenta & Butternut Squash Casserole

This Cheese Polenta and Butternut Squash Casserole makes an easy cheesy side dish to the holiday meal. It covers the stuffing (think cornbread) and vegetable all in one creamy dish. And it’s gluten-free!

Cheese Polenta and Butternut Squash Casserole | 2CookinMamas - Creamy, cheesy goodness makes a great Thanksgiving side. Save time with frozen squash and pre-made polenta. #recipe #sidedish #butternutsquash

Can you believe it is already November and Thanksgiving is just around the corner?! Yikes! Time to put some ideas together for my Thanksgiving menu!

I’ve been busy this past week experimenting with different dishes to serve for the big meal. I have my daughter, who is gluten-free, and her family coming to visit and wanted to make a meal that we could all enjoy together. I know that she wants all the traditional tastes of Thanksgiving that she loves from her Mom’s kitchen but now they have to be gluten-free. (better get my thinking cap on!)

Cheese Polenta and Butternut Squash Casserole prebaked|2CookinMamas

Last year I replaced my well-loved bread stuffing with a gluten-free quinoa stuffing. The bread in the stuffing was replaced with quinoa, with extra flavor from bacon, sausage and apples, AND we still got to stuff the turkey, which resulted in some awesome flavors. It also became a new favorite to add to our Thanksgiving meal list.

This year I decided to try a polenta and squash dish which I adapted from one found on Food & Wine. It will make a great gluten-free side that covers both a stuffing (think cornbread) and a vegetable dish. Now that is not to say I won’t have stuffing too and another veggie on the table but this one could easily be a main side dish all by itself.

Cheese Polenta and Butternut Squash Casserole | 2CookinMamas

Once you taste this, you won’t believe how creamy, cheesy and delicious it turns out. And the great part is, you can make it up the day before and bake it along with the turkey. And, just because we are always rushed for time on the big day, there are ways to make this dish even simpler. Purchase frozen mashed butternut squash, a roll of pre-made polenta and, BAM!, you can whip this up in no time. (Just look at that delicious cheesy, creamy goodness below!)

Look at that cheesy goodness

Keep checking back for more delicious suggestions for your Thanksgiving meal including dessert. I recently made a pumpkin chiffon tart with a nut crust that is just to die for! Look for the recipe coming up next Wednesday during out “Blogsgiving” Dinner celebration. (That’s when a bunch of us foodie bloggers get together and share recipes to celebrate a virtual Thanksgiving). Want more? Stay tuned for Grandma’s Apple Dumplings, served with her special Vanilla Sauce, coming soon.

Cheese Polenta and Butternut Squash Casserole 1|2CookinMamas


Prep Time
35 mins
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 35 mins
An easy cheesy squash side dish that covers the stuffing (think cornbread) and vegetables all in one creamy dish. Great to accompany the big holiday meal.
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Linda Warren
  • 1/2 large butternut squash, cubed & cooked (or use frozen mashed squash)
  • 3 Tablespoons butter, divided
  • 3 Tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1 Tablespoon light olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon chopped fresh sage or 1/4 teaspoon dried sage
  • 18 oz pkg pre-cooked polenta roll or 2 cups cooked
  • 2- oz Smoked Gouda (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese, grated, divided
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  1. To cook squash, place cubed squash in a saucepan with enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil then simmer for 10-15 minutes or until tender. Add 1 tablespoon butter and mash coarsely.
  2. In a medium skillet, toast pine nuts until they become fragrant and start to brown, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from pan and chop coarsely.
  3. To the skillet, add olive oil and heat. Add onions and sage, cover, and cook until onions are browned and translucent, about 20-25 minutes, stirring often. If onions start to stick and dry out, add a little water.
  4. Prepare large casserole dish by spraying with nonstick spray.
  5. In a large bowl, combine squash, pine nuts, onions, polenta, Gouda and 1/4 cup of Pecorino Romano cheese. Salt & pepper to taste. Pour into prepared casserole dish and pat down, spreading to edges. Place in refrigerator for 3 hours to firm up.
  6. When you are ready to cook, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove polenta-squash casserole from refrigerator. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter and rub over the top of the casserole. Sprinkle with rest of Pecorino Romano cheese and bake for 1 hour.
  7. Top will be crisp and lightly browned. Let sit for 20 minutes to make cutting easier.


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Got any great side dishes you love to fix for Thanksgiving? We would love to hear all about your favorite. Drop us a comment below.

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