Sautéed White Fish + Broccolini Over Creamy Mascarpone Polenta — a deceptively easy, elegant dinner that’s light and comforting all at once!
Creamy Polenta with White Fish + Broccolini
Can you make an elegant looking meal in a short bit of time? Absolutely!
Don’t let the long-ish list of ingredients or directions fool you into thinking this is complicated. Mise en place is key. All the components are cooked one after another, so there aren’t multiple pots to juggle at once.
And, you can have a pretty, comforting and delicious complete meal ready to serve with just 25 minutes of cook time!
Ingredients for Sautéed Fish and Broccolini with Mascarpone Polenta
- White fish — a meaty white fish (like cod, halibut or monkfish) is my pick for this. But, you can also choose more delicate varieties like sole or flounder. Either way, I always recommend wild caught fresh or frozen.
- Broccolini — sometimes referred to as baby broccoli, it is a cross between broccoli and Chinese broccoli. It has long stalks topped with florets and a flavor that is more earthy than standard broccoli. Look for bunches with slender stalks for quicker cooking.
- Quick cooking polenta — this speeds up the recipe quite a bit, requiring only about 5 minutes from start to finish.
- Mascarpone cheese — this is going to give your polenta that luscious, creamy texture!
- Seasonings — coarse sea salt, black pepper, garlic, fresh thyme and red pepper flakes.
- Cooking liquids — chicken broth (for polenta), water (for steaming veg), white wine (for the pan sauce)
- Cooking fat — olive oil and unsalted butter.
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Mise en Place
It’s so helpful to read a recipe in its entirety first, before setting to measuring and chopping. Having all the ingredients ready to go before you begin step one makes for a smoother and more enjoyable cooking experience.
Here’s how I would get ready for this recipe:
- Measure chicken broth into the saucepan you’ll make the polenta in; add the salt.
- Measure out the polenta and mascarpone.
- Set out the fish fillets (If fresh, they can rest in the butcher paper. If thawed from frozen, remove from the packaging and set on a plate.)
- Have salt and pepper at the ready.
- Measure olive oil into the nonstick skillet you’ll cook the broccolini in (but don’t turn on the heat).
- Trim the ends off the broccolini and leave them on the cutting board.
- Slice the garlic and leave it on the cutting board.
- Measure out the water and leave in the measuring cup.
- Slice the butter into 4 tablespoon size pieces for quicker melting (remember, you’ll save one of those tablespoons for the very end)
- Set out the sprigs of thyme on your cutting board.
- Have the white wine ready (you can measure that out into the same measuring cup as the water after it’s been added to the skillet).
- Measure out the red pepper flakes, if using.
Steps to Make Creamy Polenta, Broccolini and Sautéed White Fish
- Bring the seasoned broth to a boil. Turn off the heat and add the dry polenta in a steady stream, stirring constantly. Once it’s all incorporated, stir in the mascarpone cheese until it’s melted and distributed throughout. Taste and season as needed. Cover the pot to keep it warm and set aside on another burner.
- Pat the fish dry and season with salt and pepper.
- Heat the oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Once shimmering, add the broccolini in a single layer and saute for about 5 minutes. Some browning will occur and that’s totally ok. Add the garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook and stir for one minute to release the garlic fragrance. Reduce the burner to medium and add the water. Pop a cover on the skillet to steam the broccolini. Depending on the thickness of the stalks cook time can take from 3 to 8 minutes. Pierce with a fork to test for doneness and add more water as needed if it needs to steam longer. When done, remove the broccolini to a dish and cover with a sheet of foil to keep warm.
- Wipe out the skillet and add 3 tablespoons of butter. Once melted and foamy, add the thyme and fish fillets. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Remove the fish to a dish and cover to keep warm.
- To the skillet, add the white wine and red pepper flakes. Reduce the wine for about 3 minutes. Discard the thyme sprigs. Turn off the heat and stir in the last tablespoon of butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Assemble by pouring the polenta into a large serving dish, scatter with broccolini, then arrange the fish over that. Drizzle the white wine pan sauce all over and garnish with additional thyme, if you like. (Or, you can plate everything similarly in individual dishes.)
Other Ways to Use Mascarpone Cheese
I don’t know about you, but I’ve only ever found mascarpone in 8 ounce tubs. Meaning, you’ll have half a tub leftover after making this recipe…so how can you use up the rest?
- Make half a recipe for Roasted Garlic + Mascarpone Mashed Potatoes
- Make Blueberry Lemon Sweet Rolls with Mascarpone Icing (use some of that thyme here, too!)
- Try Marc Vetri’s Fresh Berry Mascarpone Pizza al Metro
- Or, this Pancetta and Mascarpone Anelli from An Italian in My Kitchen
What to Sip with This Recipe
This one is easy…white wine! After all, you’ll need just half a cup for the pan sauce, so select a wine that you would drink anyway.
I’d go with a Sauvignon Blanc as it tends to have good acidity (to balance the creamy richness of the polenta and fish), but also some fruit characteristics.
When Should You Make This?
Make this for a fancy-ish family meal or for a dinner party with close friends. Because it’s relatively quick to cook, it’s a great recipe to make when everyone is gathered around the kitchen chatting. Grab a friend to help plate the components and carry everything to the table.
Love Seafood or Polenta? Try These Recipes!
- Seafood Stew with Ciabatta Toasts
- Easy Grilled Shrimp + Polenta Appetizer with Calabrian Cream
- Grilled Salmon Salad with Basil Vinaigrette
- Ultimate Lobster Mac + Cheese
- Skillet Polenta with Burrata, Burst Tomatoes + Basil Oil
Sautéed White Fish + Broccolini Over Creamy Mascarpone Polenta
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup quick cooking polenta
- ½ cup mascarpone cheese room temperature
- 4 meaty white fish fillets like cod, haddock, halibut, monkfish (about 1-1.25 lbs)
- coarse sea salt + freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 bunches broccolini ends trimmed (look for slender stalks for quicker cooking)
- 2 cloves garlic sliced thin
- ½-¾ cup water
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter divided
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme plus more for garnish
- ½ cup dry white wine like Sauvignon Blanc
- ⅛ tsp red pepper flakes optional
- In a saucepan with a lid, bring the broth and salt to a boil (if using regular broth vs. low-sodium, omit the salt in this step). Turn off the heat and slowly pour in the polenta, stirring constantly. After two minutes of stirring, add the mascarpone and stir until it's melted and well incorporated. Taste + season with salt and pepper, as needed. Cover the saucepan to keep the polenta warm.
- Pat dry the fish and season with sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper and set aside.
- Add olive oil to a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the broccolini and sauté for five minutes (some browning may occur). Add the garlic and season with salt + black pepper. Cook for one minute, stirring often. Reduce the heat to medium, add 1/2 cup of water and cover the skillet. Steam for 3 to 8 minutes depending on the thickness of the broccolini, until they are crisp-tender. Add more water as needed. You can test for doneness by piercing the stalks with a fork. Remove the broccolini to a dish and cover to keep warm.
- Wipe out the skillet. Add 3 tbsp of unsalted butter and melt over medium heat. Once it begins to foam, add the fish fillets and thyme sprigs. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side (depending on the thickness of your fillets). Remove to a plate.
- Leave the thyme and butter in the skillet. Add the white wine and red pepper flakes (if using). Reduce for about 3 minutes. Remove the woody thyme sprigs. Turn off the heat and whisk in the last tablespoon of butter. Season to taste, but keep in mind that the acidity in the pan sauce will balance the polenta and fish.
- To serve: Pour the polenta into a large serving dish, scatter broccolini over the top. Place the fish fillets on next, then drizzle with pan sauce. Or, serve it similarly in individual portions.
Nutritional values are estimated and provided as a general guideline only. I earn a commission from Instacart from qualifying ingredient purchases.