Easy Low-Carb Almond and Cauliflower Polenta

Cheesy grits with bacon

Lauri Patterson / Getty Images

Total Time: 9 min
Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 4 min
Servings: 3 (1/2 cup servings)

Nutrition Highlights (per serving)

144 calories
12g fat
4g carbs
7g protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 3 (1/2 cup servings)
Amount per serving  
Calories 144
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 12g 15%
Saturated Fat 2g 10%
Cholesterol 7mg 2%
Sodium 239mg 10%
Total Carbohydrate 4g 1%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Total Sugars 1g  
Includes 0g Added Sugars 0%
Protein 7g  
Vitamin D 0mcg 0%
Calcium 140mg 11%
Iron 1mg 6%
Potassium 149mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calorie a day is used for general nutrition advice.

This low-carb polenta recipe will surprise you with its flavor and similarity to cornmeal polenta. The base of this recipe is almond meal, also known as almond flour, but also incorporates cauliflower rice for added texture and a nutritional boost. Cauliflower provides important vitamins such as folate and vitamin C. It is also an excellent source of vitamin K, a nutrient that is associated with better bone health and a decreased risk for coronary heart disease.

The cooking method for this recipe is the same as traditional polenta with one quick additional step of adding the cauliflower first to par-cook it before adding the almond meal. Enjoy it as a side dish or top it with protein for a full meal.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup raw cauliflower rice (from 1/2 small head cauliflower)
  • 2 cups almond meal
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • black pepper to taste

Preparation

  1. Bring water to a boil. Season with salt. Whisk in cauliflower rice, reduce to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes.

  2. Whisk in almond meal. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, whisking continuously to make sure no lumps form.

  3. Remove from heat and whisk in Parmesan. Add black pepper to taste.

  4. Immediately pour into a serving dish or directly onto plates or bowls. Serve warm.

Variations and Substitutions

This is a versatile dish. The cauliflower can easily be left out or it can be flavored various ways using different herbs, herb oils, and spices. Or top it with cheddar cheese and crunchy bacon for a different flavor profile. Additionally, just like cornmeal polenta, the recipe can be made with more or less water for thinner or thicker consistency.

For a vegan dish, leave out the parmesan cheese. To make up for the missing fat from the cheese, whisk in a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Alternatively, try adding a fresh sprig of rosemary for an aromatic Italian-style polenta that pairs well with tomato sauce or roasted tomatoes. You can also make it spicy or smoky by adding dried spices such as cayenne or smoked paprika or stirring in diced jalapeños immediately before serving or even topping with chili oil.

If you would like to serve the polenta as firm cakes, pour the hot polenta into a 9x9-inch pan lightly coated with olive oil or parchment paper and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. As the polenta cools, it will solidify. When it solidifies, you can cut it into whatever shape you like (rectangles, squares, triangles, circles, etc). Then, the cakes can be brushed with olive oil and broiled or seared in some olive oil until crispy.

Cooking and Serving Tips

  • If you are making the cauliflower rice yourself, place large cauliflower pieces from 1/2 small head cauliflower in a food processor and pulse until it resembles rice, or alternatively, use a box grater to grate large cauliflower florets into small granules of "rice."
  • Because polenta thickens considerably as it cools, you will need to add some more water or other liquid when reheating, whisking to remove any lumps.
  • When you add the almond meal, make sure heat is on low to avoid the polenta from bubbling and splattering.
  • Cook in vegetable stock instead of water for even more flavor.

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3 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Siqueira APS, Pacheco MTB, Naves MMV. Nutritional quality and bioactive compounds of partially defatted baru almond flour. Food Sci Technol (Campinas). 2015;35(1). doi:10.1590/1678-457X.6532 

  2. Cauliflower, raw. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published April 1, 2019

  3. Vitamin K: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Updated March 29, 2021.