As long as I can remember, I have been absolutely obsessed with cornmeal. I’ve always loved sweet and savory grains and porridges of all sorts, and this one is no exception. Cornmeal, otherwise known as polenta, is amazing in all its forms (which, trust me, there are many of). From polenta lasagna to corn pancakes to hot cereal and more, there are very few dishes that cornmeal can’t improve.
This week, I did a bit of experimenting with a bag of cornmeal I had leftover from a recent trip. While Italian-style polenta fries and cakes graced the table during this holiday, I decided to return to my Southern-American roots for this recipe’s inspiration.
The end result was these cute little corn cakes topped with subtly spicy plant-based chili. I added a bit of pumpkin and cinnamon for some creaminess and sweetness, plus two types of legumes and two types of tomatoes. All in all, I’m pretty pleased with this dish and I hope you are, too. Give it a go and let me know what you think!
Southern Style Corn Cakes with Vegan Chili
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 4 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup onion, chopped
- 1 large tomato, chopped
- 1 can brown lentils, drained
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 can chickpeas, drained
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- to taste salt
- 1/4 cup vegan cheese, shredded
1. Combine cornmeal, water, and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil on the stove.
2. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes, stirring constantly.
3. Meanwhile, grease muffin tin and set aside.
4. Once cornmeal has cooked, divide it up into each muffin area, smooth the top of each one, and let cool.
5. Place olive oil in a frying pan and place on the stove over medium-high heat.
6. Add onion, cooking until nearly translucent.
7. Add tomato and cook for a few minutes more.
8. Then, add lentils, tomatoes, and pumpkin.
9. Cook about 5 minutes on high heat until lentils start to soften.
10. If you have an immersion blender, use it to gently pulse the chili mixture a few times until chunky. You can skip this step if you do not own a blender.
11. Add chickpeas and remaining spices (plus salt to your liking).
12. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover, cooking for about 10 minutes more.
13. Once done cooking, serve either spread underneath or spooned on top of your cornmeal muffins.
14. Sprinkle with vegan cheese to finish.
Also by Quincy: Vegan Vietnamese Pan-Fried Noodles
Related: Vegan Peperonata with Polenta
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Photos: Quincy Malesovas