Recipe of the Week: Cooking with Polenta
It's been awhile since I've posted a recipe that I've made, so I've decided that I need to do a recipe of the week. This will be the first of this installment.
During the week, I have long days. I leave my house around 7:15 in the morning, and I don't arrive home until 6:15 in the evening. Everyone in my house eats differently, that's a fact. I'm the only vegan in the house, my husband will (literally) eat anything, and my kids have their own food idiosyncrasies. As a result of the long days + different palates, I rarely make myself a real meal these days. Most of the time I scour the cabinets and the refrigerator wondering if dinner is going to be toast again. Most of the time it is.
Inevitably, between mid- to end-of-week, I get tired of toast--or whatever sad thing I can toss together quickly--and make myself a real meal. Such was the case Thursday evening when I said, "Heck with this!" and made myself a kick-ass meal.
I had recently gotten myself some polenta, which I discovered is just a fancy word for cornmeal, and I had resolved to make some of this wonderful stuff I had only heard about. I scoured some recipes using polenta online, and bastardized a recipe using ingredients I had on hand. You know what? It came out awesome! Here's what I came up with:
Crispy-fried tofu on a bed of polenta, served with carmelized leeks and a sun-dried-tomato-cashew cream.
It was a fairly simple recipe to make, but it involves several steps, so only dive into a recipe like this when you have some time to spare. Here's the recipe:
Tofu-Polenta-Leek Plate with Sun-Dried Tomato-Cashew Cream
5 c. vegetable stock (I use Better than Bouillon, it's the best, hands-down)
1 c. polenta (or cornmeal)
1 block of tofu
1 c. cashews
4 sun-dried tomatoes
2 T. lemon juice
1 t. each garlic powder and onion powder
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
2 T. nutritional yeast
1/2-3/4 c. water
coconut oil for frying (any frying oil will do, but I prefer coconut for this recipe)
salt and pepper to taste
1. An hour before you want to cook, soak the cashews and the sun-dried tomatoes in warm water using separate containers, and press tofu.
2. Rinse and chop up your leeks into 1/4 inch rings, then separate and put aside.
3. After the hour is up on the soaking, drain the cashews and sun-dried tomatoes. Put them both in a high-powered blender and add the lemon juice, garlic & onion powder, salt, pepper, nutritional yeast, and water. Blend until smooth, scraping the sides often. Add more water to make it a pourable, but still thick, sauce. Put aside.
4. Cut drained tofu in half, width-wise, then each large square into three triangles. Set aside.
5. Bring your veggie stock to a boil, then add your polenta. To cook the polenta, I used this basic recipe: Smooth and Creamy Polenta.
6. While polenta is cooking, warm 2 T. of coconut oil in a frying pan over high heat, then add the leeks. Stir until all the leeks are coated in oil, then stir until they begin to fry. Turn the heat down to medium or medium-high, strirring occasionally, until carmelized. Approx 10 minutes.
7. Remove the leeks from the pan, setting them aside in a bowl. Cover to keep warm.
8. Add 2 T. more coconut oil to the same frying pan, over high heat, until oil starts to ripple. Turn heat down to medium-high heat, then add tofu triangles. Fry on each side until golden brown and cripsy, approx. 5 minutes each side, but keep an eye on them.
9. When the polenta and tofu are done, you can plate the meal thusly:
-Put down a bed of polenta.
-Spread some leeks over the polenta.
-Add a couple of tofu triangles on top of the leeks.
-Spoon or pour some cashew cream over the top of the tofu.
10. Enjoy! Serves 3 to 4 people.