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.
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.
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?