Polenta will always remind me of this time of year. Flashback to April two years ago: I was starting my vegan diet and learning to cook complex, interesting meals. (By complex, I mean a few steps above rice and canned beans.)
My mom had sent me a recipe for vegan ratatouille to be served with a scoop of polenta. I hauled my ingredients over to my then-boyfriend-now-fiancé’s apartment and got to work. I learned that polenta is fairly easy to make, but you must beware! While you’re cooking, it can spurt up like some sort of scary, yellow bog. (I usually wear oven mitts when I’m stirring it.) After preparing the polenta, I arranged all of the beautiful ratatouille vegetables in my fiancé’s iron skillet, which he’d inherited from his family.
The meal was delicious and special—I’ll always have a place in my heart for polenta and that iron skillet. The following recipe is somewhat similar although I’ve swapped certain veggies and added a tahini glaze made with coconut nectar—a low-glycemic sweetener. Enjoy!
Baked Polenta & Vegetables with Tahini Glaze
1 cup cornmeal/polenta
3 cups water
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 medium-sized tomato, cut into thin slices
1 zucchini, cut into coins
1 cup shitake mushrooms, stems trimmed
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 tbsp. tahini
2 tsp. whole seed Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. coconut nectar or sweetener of choice
coconut oil to grease pan
1 green onion, thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste
1. In a large pot, bring 3 cups water to a boil. Gradually add 1 cup cornmeal, stirring constantly. Add 1 tsp. salt, oregano, and basil. Bring down to a simmer. Keep stirring until most of the water is absorbed, and polenta is thick but still stir-able. This takes about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. As the polenta cools, its consistency will become thicker.
2. Wash and prepare tomato, zucchini, mushrooms, and bell pepper. Combine with onion in a large bowl.
3. In a separate dish, whisk together tahini, 1 tsp. salt, lemon juice, mustard, and coconut nectar. Add to bowl of veggies and toss until veggies are evenly coated with glaze.
4. Heat oven to 355F. Grease a 12” iron skillet or ceramic baking dish with a thin layer of coconut oil. Evenly spread polenta across the bottom of the skillet. Press the edges upward to form a 1” lip.
5. Add glazed veggies, arranging them in an even layer. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 20 minutes or until zucchini is fork-tender.
6. Garnish with freshly ground pepper and green onion.
Also by Mary: Vegan Sweet Potato Hash Browns
Veggie Bowl with Red Pepper Cashew Dip
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Photos: Mary Hood