Roasted tomato and meatball polenta is a fast weeknight dinner that everyone will love. The creamy polenta, classic meatballs and juicy tomatoes in this main course come together perfectly to make wonderful comfort food. This Italian meal is quick and easy to prepare and the flavour is simply wonderful and will become a family favourite.
Meatballs and polenta with garlic roasted tomatoes is a simple to make, hearty meal. Easy comforting weeknight meals like this are perfect for the colder months when you crave something tasty and satisfying.
Why You’ll Love This Simple Italian Dish
- Easy: Italian meatballs with soft polenta isn’t difficult to make at all. There are also shortcuts you can take such as using frozen meatballs rather than making fresh or using leftover polenta, for example.
- Authentic: Expect real Italian flavours in every mouthful of this polenta and gluten free meatball recipe. From the polenta to the parmesan cheese and spinach, there are authentic Italian flavours in every bite.
- Impressive: Just because this is a simple meatball recipe, that doesn’t mean this dish isn’t impressive. The bright pops of colour from the tomatoes and fresh basil make it a gorgeous looking dish, and it doesn’t fall short on flavour either.
Roasted Tomato and Meatball Polenta Ingredients
When it comes to Italian meatball dinner ideas, this one is a real winner. The main ingredients are ground pork, polenta, baby spinach, garlic, cherry tomatoes, and chicken stock or broth.
You also need oil, garlic, truffle salt, eggs, panko, oregano, thyme, basil, butter, black pepper, and parmesan cheese. I like to serve this delicious food with some dry red wine, so you might want to grab a bottle of that too!
How to Make Creamy Polenta and Meatballs
For more detailed instructions, with weights and measurements, jump to the printable recipe card.
Bake the tomatoes: Toss the tomatoes with oil, garlic cloves, and truffle salt and bake.
Make the meatballs: Combine the meatball ingredients and roll the mixture into meatballs.
Cook the meatballs: Brown the meatballs in oil and then finish cooking them in chicken broth.
Cook the polenta: Stir the polenta into the broth and cook until soft.
Make the sauce: Pan-fry the baked tomato mixture until golden brown then add spinach and basil.
Season the polenta: Flavour the soft polenta with salt, pepper, parmesan, and butter.
Plate and serve: Add meatballs and tomato mixture on top of the polenta and serve right away.
Substitutions and Variations
If you want to make ground turkey meatballs or use another kind of ground meat, that’s fine. Ground sausage would even work. Pork meatballs are always good though. Traditional bread crumbs will work in place of the panko. You could try meatballs baked in the tomato mixture instead of fried meatballs.
You can also make this a gluten free meatball recipe by subbing gluten free breadcrumbs for the panko. Make this a gluten free, dairy free recipe by using gluten free breadcrumbs and subbing the cheese for vegan “cheese”.
Grated pecorino goes well with meatballs and soft polenta so you could sub that for the parmesan or else just shred some to sprinkle on top. You. can also serve more parmesan cheese, since cheese goes so well with Italian meatball dinner ideas such as this one. Finely chopped basil or parsley could be added as a garnish.
What to Serve with this Italian Meal
This is a meal-in-one so you don’t need to rustle up any sides unless you want to. If you do, I suggest smoked asparagus or perhaps some green beans. And if you love Italian recipes as much as I do, this eggplant parmigiana is also great.
Store: Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator and eat within 3 days .
Freeze: Polenta does not freeze well. Leftover cooked meatballs can be frozen in a freezer safe airtight container for 3 months.
Reheat: Polenta is best when you serve immediately. However, you can warm it back up in a pan on the stove or microwave it.
Meatball Polenta with Tomato FAQs
Feel free to substitute polenta with pasta if you don’t have any polenta or if you simply prefer pasta. Rice would work too.
If you sub your favourite low carb-friendly breadcrumbs for the panko and serve over zucchini “noodles” instead of polenta, this could definitely be a worthy keto addition to your regular meal rotation.
Cornmeal is made by grinding dried corn kernels into a fine, medium or coarse texture. The difference between cornmeal and polenta is in the consistency of the grain. Polenta is a cornmeal porridge that’s a common dish in Northern Italy.
Polenta is much more coarsely ground, which makes the end product less mushy, and it has a little more bite to it than cornmeal. Regular polenta can take up to 40 minutes to cook and requires constant stirring, while instant polenta or quick cooking polenta can be made in as little as 5 minutes.
Roasted Tomato and Meatball Polenta
- 2 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 8 Cloves garlic
- 3 Cups cherry tomatoes
- 1 ½ Teaspoon truffle salt
- 4 Cups chicken broth or beef broth
- 1 ½ Cups polenta cornmeal
- 1 ½ Pound ground pork
- 2 eggs
- ½ Cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 Teaspoon oregano dried
- 1 Teaspoon thyme fresh leaves
- 3 Cups baby spinach
- 1/3 Cup basil fresh, sliced
- 3 Tablespoon butter
- 1 Teaspoon truffle salt
- ½ Teaspoon black pepper coarse
- ⅓ Cup Parmesan cheese grated
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Combine tomatoes, garlic cloves, olive oil, and truffle salt in a bowl and toss to coat. Spread onto a foil lined baking sheet and place into the oven. Bake for 20 minutes.
- Heat a frying pan over medium high heat. Add coconut oil and swirl to coat the pan.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine pork, eggs, panko, black pepper, oregano, garlic powder, and thyme. Mix well.
- Pour chicken broth into a large saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a boil.
- While the chicken broth or beef broth is heating up, Form meat into 18 equal sized meatballs. We used a cookie scoop for uniform sized meatballs.
- Add meatballs to the frying pan and brown for 10 minutes, turning to evenly cook.
- Once the meatballs are cooked, remove from the pan and set aside. *Keep drippings in the pan.
- Slowly add the polenta to the broth in a steady stream. Whisk constantly as the polenta is added. Once fully incorporated, lower the heat to simmer and cover. Cook for 20 minutes, stopping to stir halfway through.
- Remove the tomatoes and garlic from the oven and add to the hot frying pan. Cook for 5 minutes, then stir in half of the chopped basil and spinach. Cook for 3 minutes and add the meatballs back to the pan. Turn off the heat.
- Next, add the butter, truffle salt, black pepper, and parmesan to the polenta. Stir until melted.
- Serve polenta in a bowl and top with meatballs and tomatoes. Garnish with basil and parmesan.
The nutrition information provided are only estimates based on an online nutritional calculator. I am not a certified nutritionist. Please consult a professional nutritionist or doctor for accurate information and any dietary restrictions and concerns you may have.
Roasted tomato and meatball polenta is a delicious Italian dish which combines creamy, cheesy polenta with juicy, homemade meatballs, spinach, tomatoes, and more, for an authentic taste of Italy. The roasted chopped tomatoes are a nice change from tomato sauce or a marinara sauce. This is a great recipe for weeknight dinners that is incredibly easy to make!
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Bella Bucchiotti is a storyteller, food lover, dog mom and adventure seeker living on the Pacific coast. She shares her passion for food, dogs, fitness, adventures, travel and philanthropy, in hopes of encouraging followers to run the extra mile, try new recipes, visit unfamiliar places and stand for a cause. Bella lives with Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease.