Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Vegan Polenta Pie

I'm going to tell you a little something about myself. I perform well under pressure. Give me a tight deadline, throw me a curve ball, or even present me with a challenge. Most of the time, I will come out on top. 

This Vegan Polenta Pie? A perfect example of that principle. 


Our book club meets about once a month. That means I have approximately 30 days to figure out what I'm going to make. Do I do it? No.  I just let the situation escalate until the morning of, and then I freak out and scamper around trying to "wing it".

Knowing understanding the time constraints of the morning, I made the executive decision to attend a 10AM WERQ class at ENRGi Fitness. My logic said dancing > cooking. After an hour of shaking it, I sauntered over to Whole Foods to figure out what I needed to buy to make a dish I hadn't conceptualized for. Did I mention the dietary restrictions of our group? No gluten, no soy, no eggs, no dairy, no coconut, and no animal products. On top of that, it better be delicious because all these ladies can cook and you need to make sure you can hang. Top Chef should come do a challenge at our monthly meetings because it's a mental exercise. 

Since I've been riding the polenta train HARD, I decided to vegan-ize a recipe I'm made before and home for the best. Since it used mozzarella cheese, I ventured into the vegan cheese section of Whole Foods and spend a solid 15 minutes pondering the options. In the end, I went with teese because I know this girl likes it and she is my vegan-guru. 


By the time I got home, I had approximately 1 hour and some change to put together my dish and myself and get the two of us over to Kelsey's apartment. 

My inspiration was Moosewood's Polenta Pie. I've made it before, but this version was actually better. I started by making my polenta with a 4:1 ratio of water to polenta. I seasoned it with salt, pepper, nutritional yeast, and some olive oil.  Once it thickened, I removed it from the heat and let it sit while I worked on the veggies. 


Can I just tell you how nervous I was to buy Fresh Organic Basil from the bulk bins for $24.99 lb...how much does basil weigh?  I grabbed a couple stalks and thankfully it was about 2 bucks

I wanted the cherry tomatoes to roast a bit, so I put them in a really hot pan with some oil and a lid and shook them every couple minutes. The photo looks really greasy, but tomato burst after a while. After they burst, I removed them from the heat and let them cool down.

Once the polenta was cooled down a bit, I poured it into my pan and baked it at 375 for 30 minutes (when it is "set" in the middle). When it was done, put it on my baking rack for expedited cooling and jumped in the shower.

I poured both veggies over the top and sprinkled with chopped basil. I packed the toppings in a bag, wrapped up the dish and walked a couple blocks over to Kelsey's.


I had no idea how to use the vegan cheese, so I waited til the vegans arrived so they could show me. It's actually just like goat cheese consistency and I crumbed it sparingly. Another quick trip to the oven to melt the cheese and a drizzle of balsamic glaze (Trader Joe's).

Luckily, the time crunch worked in my favor and "winging" it turned into something fab. I loved the "cheesy" flavor that the nutritional yeast gave the polenta and I would definitely make it again. The whole pie was devoured and I even had requests for the recipe (hence this janky post with iphone pics).

Vegan Polenta Base:
1/2 cup yellow polenta*
2 cups water
2 TBSP nutritional yeast
1 TBSP olive oil
at least 1 tsp salt (taste and see, be generous)
ground black pepper

Whisk ingredients over medium heat and work out any lumps. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Once mixture thickens, pour into pan (I sprayed with cooking spray) and bake at 375 until mixture "sets" and has a hard top.  Mine took about 30 minutes, but every oven is different. Polenta is pretty forgiving and usually sets solid as it cools. 

*My base was quite thin, so if you want a thicker base, I would increase the amount of polenta and change the water ratio accordingly. 

Vegetable Topping
half yellow summer squash, chopped
half zucchini, chopped
half small yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 TBSP oil of choice
1 TBSP fresh chopped basil  (added to veggie saute after removed from heat)
salt & pepper

Saute onion until edges are translucent, add squash and zucchini, plus salt and pepper. Once veggies start to soften, add garlic and mix throughout. Once veggies are throughout cooked, removed from heat and stir in fresh basil. Taste and season if necessary. 

Additional Toppings: You can eat this as is, or you can top with regular cheese, vegan cheese, fresh herbs, or balsamic glaze. If I use cheese, I jack up the oven to 400 and put it in for 5 minutes to melt and top with fresh basil afterwards.

Have you tried vegan cheese? Which brand and what did you think? 
What food allergy would you consider to be most disastrous?  I would be really enraged if I was allergic to eggs or nuts. 
Strangest Food Allergy you've encountered?  I was having a work function at my house and one guy said he was allergic to all vegetables except butternut and carrots. Really? Are we serious? 

13 comments:

Amy B @ Second City Randomness said...

Your dish was most definitely amazing. I could barely tell the cheese wasn't dairy!

ilaxstudio said...

Thank you so much for bringing that and making it so I could eat it! It was delish! I think it is the only dish that was completely finished :)

I am totally going to share this recipe with my husband ;)

Thanks for the shoutout! ;)

kelsey said...

YES thank you for this recipe. NOMZ

Erin @ Loop Looks said...

Adding this to my list of things to try at home!



Also, people who claim they're allergic to things they don't like give people with actual allergies a bad name! I once had a customer when I was a waitress who claimed she was allergic to lettuce....

Sierra said...

So your saying your not allergic to cilantro?

Sierra said...

Thanks for posting a pic of me with a heart.

Sierra said...

Once it's melted, it was great. I tried it raw and it tasted a bit weird, but I'm not expecting a miracle.

Erin @ Loop Looks said...

Sadly, no.

Katie @ Peace Love & Oats said...

This was SO GOOD!!!!! I'm definitely making it!

livehalffull said...

I was allergic to red food coloring as a kid. It sucked!

Livehalffull said...

As a kid I was allergic to red food coloring. It sucked!

Veggie Next Door said...

This was one of my favorite dishes at this month's bookclub. And there wasn't even a crumb left afterwards - I know because I went back for seconds and it was allll gone! I've had the orange Teese before, but never the white one and it was so delicious. I also need to buy some of that Balsamic Glaze. I'm hoping to try your recipe soon!

Veggie Next Door said...

P.S. I am making my grocery list right now - this will be dinner one night this week! Wanted to let you know that It looks like you forgot to list tomatoes in the ingredient list. :-)

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