Thursday, August 18, 2011

Polenta Stacks with Black Bean, Sweet Potato, and Greens

Even though my experimental "vegan month" is over, I'm still testing out great new vegan recipes. This one is a KEEPER for many reasons - It's pretty easy to make, not that time consuming, doesn't require a ton of ingredients I don't have, and it's delicious! I FINALLY found something wonderful to do with polenta. Usually when my husband or I have made it in the past, we pan cook it with olive oil, and it always comes out too oily. We never really had great ideas to serve it with, and end up just slapping pasta sauce on it. Boring polenta no more! Enter Gina from Choosing Raw's EXCELLENT POLENTA STACKS!

(Original recipe here)
  • 1 tube organic, prepared polenta
  • 2 large yams or sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 Tbsp mellow white miso (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp Earth Balance
  • ~2 Tbsp almond milk
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 small cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp agave
  • 1 head of kale or Swiss chard (or a mix of the two), washed and chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Peel and quarter the yams. Heat a large pot of water to a boil, and boil the yams until they’re fork tender.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. While the yams cook, spray a pan or cookie sheet with cooking spray. Cut the polenta into 1/2 inch rounds, and line them evenly on the tray and place in oven. Cook for ~10-15 minutes on each side, or until polenta is golden brown.
  3. Remove yams from water, and drain. Using a potato masher or ricer, mash them with the miso (if you have some & want to add it!), cinnamon, Earth Balance, and almond milk. Use only enough milk to achieve a thick consistency (you can actually omit the milk altogether, as I did, and it comes out just fine! I did add just a tiny bit of agave though). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  4. Place drained beans, 1 minced clove of garlic, cumin, coriander, agave, and salt and pepper to taste in a food processor, and process roughly, so that the beans look a bit like refried beans.
  5. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a skillet and add the other small clove of minced garlic. Stir garlic for about 1 minute, then add chopped greens. Cover for two minutes and then sautee until just wilted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Assemble the stacks: I placed a bed of the greens on the bottom, then the polenta cake, followed by the beans, and finally the yams on top. (Gena's version has the greens in the middle). However you stack them, you just want to eat all the components together- everything pairs so amazingly!
Some notes:
-The original recipe calls for double the yams and beans and ingredients to go in them; since I was making dinner for two, I knew that would be way too much. We had plenty for plentiful stacks, plus extra for leftovers. (Side note: I tend to slip and use 'yams' and 'sweet potatoes' interchangeably- I pretty much always mean the darker more orange version!)
-I DID NOT add the following ingredients: milk (whoops! all out of my non-diary milk!), coriander (haven't ever used it!), and the miso (darn! I actually had this one in my fridge and was planning on making use of it, but then forgot). Despite forgetting a few things, the dish tasted amazing and flavorful- sweet from the yams with cinnamon, savory from the polenta (which was cooked perfectly and not at all oily), spices (and protein!) from the bean spread, and even more flavor from the greens. Speaking of which, I used a combo of red Swiss chard (YUM!) and mixed kales (I LOVE you Berkeley Bowl for having such an array of kales- not to mention other veg). I had to remind myself to take it easy on the kale (flashbacks to eating too much raw kale during my coo-coo for kale episode). I am proud to say I did not have an entire head of kale while making this dish ;-) But seriously, chard and kale really complement the other ingredients here.

This dish feels homey and warm but exciting all at the same time. Make it. Eat it. Love it.

What a yum dinner!

And leftovers like this are the cherry on top ;-)

This WILL be a vegan recipe I show off at a dinner party! Thanks to Gena!

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