Monday, July 20, 2009

Polenta Cakes with Mushroom and Tomato Sauce

So this is a dish, maybe not a meal, but it served well enough for an easy dinner. Was my whole day vegan? Well, scotch is vegan...

Polenta Cakes with Mushroom and Tomato Sauce

For the polenta cakes:
In a pot, put:
2 c water
1 cube vegetable bouillon
1 tsp dried rosemary leaves
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Bring the whole thing to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. While stirring, pour in 3/4 c polenta. Simmer, while stirring, until thick. Pour into a square container which has been sprayed with Pam, and chill in the fridge until set.

For the sauce:
3 tbsp black truffle infused oil
3/4 c dried sliced shiitake mushrooms
3/4 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 c water stirred together with 1/2 tsp vegemite
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 medium tomato, chopped and tossed with 1/2 tsp sea salt (about 1 c total)

Put the truffle oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the shiitakes and fennel. Cook, stirring frequently, until the shiitakes are golden brown and fragrant. Add the water with vegemite. Add the paprika, pepper, basil, and garlic powder. Increase the heat to medium-high. Cook until most of the liquid is gone. Add the tomato. Cook until the tomato is soft and the sauce is thick.

Cut the polenta into squares. Fry them in a pan with a little olive oil. Serve the polenta cakes with the sauce on top.

There you have it, folks! Notice that the sauce has many of the same seasonings as Italian sausage. In a non-vegan setting, this would be polenta cakes with Italian sausage.

Did I have to use black truffle oil? No. Olive oil would have worked just as well.

You may be wondering, what the heck is vegemite? Go ask an Australian friend about vegemite! Also sold under the name marmite, it's a thick, dark, and very pungent paste made from the leftover yeast from beer manufacturing. Aussies (at least some of them) will spread it on bread with butter. Note that in many cultures, serving vegemite in this fashion is considered to be an act of aggression! (It is very pungent). I like to use it in small amounts in brown sauces to deepen the flavor. If you're a label reader, as you should be, you'll often see "hydrolyzed yeast extract." It's the same thing.


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