Saturday, July 3, 2010

Beet Hummus and Polenta baked with Tomatoes, Corn, and Basil

There had been quite a buzz on the AM list that spilled over into FB, about this Beet Hummus recipe. I first tried it and took it on my cooking date (fairly daring given he is an Israeli foodie. I'm happy to say he loved it). I was happy to use the co-op as an excuse to make more of it. The other time I made it, I didn't realize I was out of tahini, and though several websites assured me you could make it yourself in a blender, I went through two different processors and a blender before resorting to my mortar and pestle. Worked really well, though with more texture than regular tahini, that's for sure. THis time around I bought tahini, so probably what takes the longest is just boiling the beets before throwing everything in the blender. I served the hummus with more of that yummy flatbread that Claire had served us the previous week with daal. That was what got me to finally join Costco, helped along by a reduced price membership coupon from my Amex card.

The Baked Polenta dish is another of my favourite summer meals from Annie Somerville's Fields of Greens, recipe book from Greens Restaurant. I just had to veganize the polenta, and the cheese topping. Prompted by Claire's suggestion of replacing the cheese in the polenta with nutritional yeast, I went searching on the web, and found this Nutritional Yeast Polenta Cakes recipe. I made the polenta the night before, and the tomato sauce, and then put it together and baked it the next day.

Tomato Sauce
makes 2 cups

1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced (1 cup)
1/2 tsp dried basil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 cup dry red wine
1.5 lbs fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded, chopped (2 cups) or a 16 oz can of diced tomatoes in their juice
1 bay leaf

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Add the onions, basil, 1/2 tsp salt and a few pinches of pepper. Saute over medium heat until the onion is soft, ~ 7 mins. Add garlic and saute for 1-2 mins. Add wine and simmer 1-2 mins to reduce. When the pan is almost dry, add tomatoes and bay leaf. Cook over low heat ~ 30 mins. Add salt/pepper/sugar to taste.

Polenta baked with Tomatoes, Corn, and Basil
Serves 4-6

Polenta (see recipe link above)
Tomato Sauce (see recipe above)
1 Tbsp butter (I used earth balance vegan stuff)
3 ears of corn, shaved (2.5 cups)
3/4 lb tomatoes, cored and seeded (I used halved cherry tomatoes)
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 cup fresh basil, chopped
1-2 jalapeno chilies, seeded and thinly sliced (I skipped this for co-op)
2 oz Parmesan cheese, grated (~ 2/3 cup) - I used Daiya vegan mozarella shreds

Make polenta. While it's cooling, make tomato sauce. Remove bay leaf. Preheat the oven to 375F.
Melt the butter in a skillet and add the corn. Saute over medium heat for 10 mins till the corn is tender. Season with 1/4 tsp salt.
While the corn is cooking, cut up the tomatoes and marinate in olive oil with 1/4 tsp salt and some freshly ground pepper.
Cool the corn, toss with the tomatoes, half the basil, and half the chilies (if you are using them).
Pour the sauce into the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Arrange polenta triangles or fingers upright in the sauce, using all of the polenta. Spoon the veges into the spaces between the polenta. Sprinkle with cheese.
Cover and bake for 25 mins, then uncover and bake 10 more mins. Sprinkle on the remaining basil and serve.

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