What’s not to love about polenta? It is simple cornmeal. It is delicious and may be prepared in a variety of ways and may even be eaten cold (perfect for a picnic or packed lunch). It is as much a winter dish as spring/summer. These triangles may be easily frozen.
You can get polenta/cornmeal in the posh aisle and you can find it in the flour aisle (and costs vary depending in which aisle you pick it up). Whatever type you fancy, try to use one with a thicker cut grain for best texture and keep any uncooked polenta/cornmeal in the freezer to prevent it going bitter.
Here’s a dish that I have adapted and veganised from the book Moosewood Restaurant: Low-Fat Favorites” that I received from AK, my fantastic sister-in-law. It is an excellent resource.
- 10 sun dried tomatoes
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 teaspoon vegetable/see oil of your choice
- one small onion, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon asafoetida
- 3-4 shallots
- 5 garlic cloves, smashed to release the flavour but still whole (these will be removed)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 50g fresh basil (or 2 Tablespoons dried)
- 250g mushrooms, chopped
- 500ml water
- 200g cornmeal/polenta
- 50-100g bread crumbs
- 1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes
- 50g parsley, fresh and chopped
- 1/2-3/4 cup soy or other non-dairy milk for coating the triangles
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Soak the sun dried tomatoes in the cup of boiling water and set aside. In a saucepan, warm the olive oil and the garlic. Let the garlic get golden brown and then remove. Then add the asafoetida, onions, 1/2 teaspoon salt and shallots and cook them over medium-high heat until softened (20 minutes or so). You can combine these steps. Just don’t let the garlic burn. Once softened, add 25g of basil and all the mushrooms. Cook on low heat, stir occasionally and continue for 10-15 minutes until the mushrooms have released all their liquid. Drain (and keep for use in cooking the polenta as below) the water from the sun dried tomatoes and then finely chop them. Add them to the mushrooms and set aside (off the heat).
In a separate saucepan, bring to a boil 500ml of water (including the water from the sun dried tomatoes) and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Once the water is at a roiling boil, slowly add in the polenta and whisk it constantly so that no lumps form (which is actually impossible, in my opinion, but I don’t mind them). Once all the polenta is in the water, lower the heat to low and continue to stir until the polenta is thick. This will take 2-5 minutes. Add the mushrooms/sun dried tomatoes to the polenta and mix well.
Use a rectangular baking dish and lightly coat it with oil or vegan margarine. Spread the polenta mixture evenly throughout the baking dish and chill in the freezer for 30 minutes or in the refrigerator for one hour. The chilling process makes it easy to cut the polenta in to the triangular shapes you see below.
While the polenta is chilling, mix the breadcrumbs, nutritional yeast flakes, parsley 1/2 teaspoon salt and the remaining 25g of basil and set aside. Pour a bit of soy milk into a saucer and either have to hand a pastry brush or use your fingers. You will use this liquid to lightly coat the polenta triangles so that you may then dip them into the breadcrumb mixture.
To cut the polenta into the nice little triangular shapes, cut it in half lengthways, in thirds crosswise and then cut each resulting small rectangle in half diagonally. See this photo for what I mean
Remove each triangle from the baking dish and brush each side with a bit of soy milk. Then roll the triangle in the breadcrumb mix and set on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Repeat until you’ve used up all the triangles. Bake for 20 minutes, then turn over each triangle and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on cooling rack or eat straight away!