Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Winter Harvest Polenta

If you've ever tasted real polenta as opposed to that icky store-bought version, you know why I have to make my own.  For a long while, I was intimidated by this dish & thought there was no way I could create a vegan version.  Just like risotto, though, polenta is easier than you think & even easier to veganize!

Today I wanted something different to use up the leftover butternut squash sitting in the refrigerator, so I played around with a recipe & came up with this:

Winter Harvest Polenta

1 cup cooked & mashed winter squash (butternut, acorn, sweet dumpling, pumpkin...any winter squash will do)
3 cups vegetable stock or water
1 cup coarse cornmeal
1/4 cup minced onion (about 1/4 small onion)
pinch dried, crushed rosemary
pinch dried, crushed (not powdered) sage
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp vegan margarine (I use Earth Balance)
2 Tbsp vegan Parmesan (I make my own, but you can use any number of store-bought brands)
2 Tbsp unsweetened milk substitute (I use unsweetened almond milk)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To cook squash, just peel & cube, then boil for about 20 minutes in salted water.  Puree with a potato masher or in your food processor/blender.  Set aside.

Bring water to a boil.  Slowly stir in cornmeal.  Stir constantly & reduce heat to medium-high (still boiling, but slowly).  Continue to cook & stir constantly until the mixture is thick & consistent.  It may even begin to form lumps.  Remove from heat & add the rest of the ingredients (if you want to saute the onions first, go ahead, I didn't) & stir to fully combine.

Spray an 8 inch x 8 inch pan with non-stick spray or paint lightly with olive oil.  Spread mixture into pan & bake for 30-40 minutes.  Remove & allow to cool slightly before serving.

This can also be grilled!  To grill the polenta, omit the baking step (or bake it, eat some & chill the rest for grilling), chill the mixture, covered, in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or until cool & firm.  Slice to about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch thick & grill over medium heat on an oiled grill.

The next conundrum was what to do with my new yummy polenta.  After digging through a few books, I decided to combine 3 recipes in my cauldron, add a touch of Faery dust & out came:

Winter Harvest Polenta Stacks with Sun-Dried Tomato Cashew Cheese

I sliced the polenta & grilled it, added a layer of "cheese", & a layer of roasted veggies, topped with tomato & roasted veggie puree & zapped it in the oven at 400 for about 10 minutes.

I basically just threw the "cheese" together using cashews, pine nuts, a touch of white miso, some fresh pesto I made earlier this week,  & sun-dried tomatoes.  The veggies were mushrooms, zucchini, onion, & carrots.  After they roasted, I pureed them in my blender with 3 whole tomatoes, 2 Tbsp tomato paste, a splash of apple cider vinegar, about a Tbsp of maple syrup & some garlic, then simmered for an hour.

Hubby & I got so excited about eating dinner, that I forgot to take a picture, but you get the idea.

Nutritious & Yummmy!!!

Wild & Bright Blessings!


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