Saturday, January 5, 2008

Polenta Casserole

We had an omni guest for dinner tonight and I was a little nervous about feeding him vegan fare. Thankfully, he was curious and more than happy to give vegan eating a try. Plus, I lucked out and happened to I try a great recipe.

Polenta Casserole
from Eat, Drink & be Vegan: by Dreena Burton

Makes 4-5 big servings
  • ½ - 1 tsp oil (I used Earth Balance)
  • 2 ½ cups cooked beans (I used 1 can red beans, 1 can black beans, and 1 can green beans – it was about 3 cups altogether)
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • ½ cup frozen or fresh corn kernels (replaced with green beans)
  • 3 tbsp onion, minced (could use more - yum!)
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped (I used dried)
  • 1 ½ tsp red wine vinegar (or balsamic vinegar)
  • ½ tsp agave nectar
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ - 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp dried mustard
  • 1 tsp tamari
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 tube (18-oz/510-g) prepared polenta, grated
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (I used Earth Balance)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup vegan cheese, grated (author recommended and I used “Follow Your Hear” mozzarella)
  • ¼ cup fresh basil or parsley, or chives, chopped for garnish (omitted)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil an 8x12-in (I used a 9x13-in) baking dish. In a bowl, combine beans, tomato sauce, corn kernels, onion, thyme, vinegar, agave nectar, paprika, oregano, mustard, tamari, ½ tsp salt, and pepper. Mix to combine well. Transfer to baking dish and distribute evenly.

In a separate bowl, combine polenta, 1 tbsp olive oil, pinch of salt, and cheese, then sprinkle on top of bean mixture. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until top is golden and cheese is melted, or a little longer for a crunchier topping. Place casserole under broiler for 1-2 minutes to melt cheese if needed. (I had to kick the broiler on to get the cheese to melt and everyone loved the crispy bits of polenta that resulted.) Garnish with sprinkling of herbs if desired.

I served this with fresh bread sticks and it got thumbs up from each of us. We all had a second helping of casserole and exchanged ideas on various substitutions that could enhance or completely change the flavor and theme of this dish. I think this would be a great thing to make for mixed company (veggies and omnis), as the cheese helps keep it familiar and casseroles are something just about everyone loves. It's comfort food!



Anonymous said...

HOLY CRAP this is AH-MAZING! I had some polenta to use and was tired of same ol pan-frying it... so searched and searched a recipe. All the other ones I found called for uncooked polenta (which I have but didn't want to use that tonight) - until this post. So my son and I (he's 4 and always likes to help) made this together and OMG, it's delish!! Thank you so much for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Thank you! Made this last night and it was delicious!! I did the corn instead of green beans and added spinach... Grating the polenta and mixing t with the vegan mozzarella was genius! :)