There are many dinners planned around potatoes, rice or pasta. Today I add a lovely Italian classical to it: Polenta.
I make fried polenta with red onion marmalade, shiitake tapenade and smoked tofu. A great alternative for dinner together with some green leaves or even as a fancy snack to go with the sunday drink.
Polenta (which like the gluten-free alternative to semolina) is made of small coarse or finely grounded corn kernel and can be used for both cakes, porridge, pancakes and pudding.
Regular polenta needs to be stirred with broth for around 40 minutes but to speed up the dinner, I have chosen an instant polenta. This one only takes a few minutes to get ready.
It’s nice to add both cheese* (or nutritional yeast) and/or spices when you mix the polenta with the broth. This way you get much more taste in it!
Then spread out the polenta even in a mold and wait until it solidifies. This can be done already the day before to save even more time when you are hungry. Then you should just choose how to cook it; fry, grill, bake it in the oven or deep fry it. It will be good in whatever way you choose!
To go with my polenta I made two different accompaniment with lots of taste; A red onion marmalade that also fits perfect on a sandwich, in a pasta or as a side dish to a stew.
I also made a very simple tapenade that gets a lot of flavor thanks to the shiitake. Shiitake has a powerful, almost fleshy flavor filled with umami. You often see the shiitake, dried or fresh, in the Asian kitchen.
I have used fresh shiitake this time but would you have difficulties in getting it, I’m sure it works with dry and then soaked shiitake as well. If you like, combine half the amount of fresh brown mushrooms and half of dried and soaked Shiitake.
Both the red onion marmalade and tapenade can easily prepared one or two days in advance.
For my dinner I also added some smoked tofu. Easy to just slice in thin slices and bake crunchy in some oil. That suited the other rich taste very well!
Fried polenta with red onion marmalade, shiitake tapenade and smoked tofu
1 liter of water
2 teaspoons of loose broth powder (preferably homemade dehydrated veggie bouillon)
1/2 teaspoon salt (if you use no-salt broth)
250 grams of instant polenta
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of sage (dried or fresh)
1 teaspoon of rosemary (dried or fresh)
1 teaspoon of thyme (dried or fresh)
How do I do it?
1. Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan. Add broth (and salt if needed).
Cut the fresh herbs if you have chosen for that.
3. Prepare a (preferably squared) baking tin with a baking parchment.
4. Add all the polenta at once to the boiling water and stir very well. There should be no lumps left. If necessary, add some extra water to remove any lumps.
5. Add the olive oil and the finely chopped herbs to the polenta and again stir well.
6. Spread the polenta flat into the baking tin, approximately 1.5 cm thick. Be careful not to burn your fingers as it may be hot! If its difficult to get the surface even, wet your hands with warm water and spread it out with your fingers. The more even surface, the more beautiful polenta later.
7. Let the polenta cool for at least 20 minutes. Then cut it into smaller triangles or squares. If the pieces are too thick, you can also divide them, then they easier become crisp when baking. Al of this can be prepared in advance if preferred.
8. Grill, fry or deep-fry them and serve warm or luke-warm with the tasty side dishes.
Red onion marmalade
4 red onions
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons of agave or date syrup
salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon of fresh, chopped thyme
How do I do it?
1. Peel and cut the onion into thin slices. Bake the onion on low heat in the oil for about 10 minutes. Stir regularly to avoid burning.
2. Add the vinegar and agave or date syrup when the onion has softened. Let the simmer for another 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into a container.
3. Add chopped thyme just before serving. This marmalade is wonderful both warm and cold.
1 large yellow onion, about 400 grams
Deodorized coconut oil to bake in plus 1 teaspoon when mixing the tapenade
150 grams of fresh shiitake
2 tsp of tamari
Salt and black pepper
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
How do I do it?
1. Peel the onion and fry it on low heat until transparent, this will take about 15 minutes. Stir regularly to avoid burning.
2. Clean the shiitake with a brush (never wash mushrooms in water!) and cut the shiitake stem. Cut each mushroom into 2 or 4 pieces depending on the size.
3. When the onion is softened, add the shiitake. Higher the temperature slightly and cook until soft. Add the tamari and continue baking for a few more minutes on high heat.
4. Pour everything in a high mixing bowl. Add salt, pepper, dried thyme and another teaspoon of deodorized coconut oil (this will give a more solid consistency for the tapenade). Mix the tapenade smooth and then pour it into a container. Cover with a lid and place it in the fridge for about an hour before enjoying.
Enjoy the dinner with some smoked, baked tofu in slices. some roasted seeds and a nice salad.
This recipe is free from gluten and lactose.