crispy polenta tapas bar (vegan)
guess what i did this weekend? absolutely. nothing.
well that is not entirely true. i did wake up. not by choice but i do live with two little alarm clocks. i hung out with my girls. browsed vegan blogs. stayed in my pajamas. crisped up some polenta. and did nothing pertaining to art or business, except for planning and writing this blog post. which by the way, did not feel like work but more like sharing my celebration with all of you.
boy did i need that!!!
this month has just been crazy with teaching classes, two amazing art shows and my daughter starting kindergarten. it’s really just felt like a whirlwind. so after the show on thursday, i have just been taking the time that i needed to just recharge.
and the part that i am celebrating? i have made more money this month than i ever have in my creative business, and the month isn’t even over. just about as much as i use to make teaching kindergarten. and that feels HUGE. because when you truly follow your heart and your big dreams you often wonder if it will ever really pay you in cash. it pays in many other ways that cannot be quantified with a dollar amount. but hey, we all have bills to pay. i really don’t know that every month will look like this, but i am just counting this as a step in the right direction.
i had friends over this weekend to celebrate and get together. and this is the dish that i made. if you have never had sauteed polenta before, then you are really missing out on life. my two guests agreed that this dish is absolutely delicious and they both found out something amazing to do with polenta. i love introducing people to yummy foods that they have never had. i feel like i am educating people on the joys of cooking. makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
this little vegan tapas bar is great to serve as appetizers. you know brushetta the italian appetizer? the yummy crispy bread you can top with all sorts of delicious savory toppings. well making polenta this way is kind of the gluten free version of that. the texture is perfect. it’s just the right crunch for your tasty toppings. simply put out all the crispy polenta rounds with all of the different toppings and let guests choose how they want to top it. serve with a salad and some chicken (for your meat eaters) and you have the perfect meal.
i accompanied my little crispy polenta rounds with an olive tapenade, warm fresh tomato salsa, and mushroom sage tapenade… can you say delicious? so i basically made three different and absolutely fabulous ways to top these little crunchy delights. every bite is my favorite. i can’t really decide which one is better. so maybe you can decide for me. and feel free to add in your favorite ways to top a brushetta.
cooking the polenta:
two to three organic cooked polenta rounds.
you want enough to feed a crowd. i usually buy the basil garlic flavored. (my girls can eat a whole one on their own so don’t make the mistake i have made by only buying one. it will go fast.) start by heating up a few tablespoons of olive oil in a big saucepan. cut your polenta rounds into 1/4 inch slices. place in the warm olive oil and brown each side to a golden brown. cover with a lid to avoid oil splatter. you want your polenta to be crispy on both sides but not burned. remove from the heat when both sides are perfectly crispy to a paper towel. drain excess oil and keep warm with a lid until all of the polenta are finished. top with your favorite toppings.
classic tomato and basil topping
two to three ripe tomatoes (preferably fresh from the garden)
1 yellow (or orange) bell pepper chopped
1/4 cup of red onion
two garlic cloves
a few swirls of olive oil
a splash of raw apple cider vinegar
start out by sauteing some red onion in a little bit of olive oil. allow onions to soften, then add fresh cut tomatoes (or canned in a pinch) and chopped bell peppers. let tomatoes and peppers soften, add freshly minced garlic. you want the tomatoes to thicken quite a bit. once the sauce is thick, remove from the heat and stir in freshly chopped basil and salt and pepper to taste. to add a little zing, add a quick splash of raw apple cider vinegar at the end. note: this is the most traditional topping. the tomatoes and basil are just classic, fresh, bright flavors. you really can’t go wrong. and if you have tomatoes from the garden, even better!!!
my dad always said, “nothing in the world like home grown tomatoes!” and i couldn’t agree more. for a raw version, simply chop ingredients and mix together like a fresh salsa. just as tasty!!!
1 can of black olives in water or 1 cup of fresh olives
2 Tablespoons of lemon juice
1 clove of garlic
a splash of olive oil
2 Tablespoons of freshly chopped rosemary
2 Tablespoons of balsamic vinegar or 2 Tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with a teaspoon of honey
place all of the ingredients into the food processor on low until you develop a thick consistency. i love balsamic vinegar, but i don’t eat it anymore due to candida problems. to substitute balsamic vinegar simply add a little honey to your apple cider vinegar (the only vinegar i eat anymore) for a sweet taste. the rosemary also adds a depth of flavor and hidden sweetness. yum, yum, yum! enjoy on your crispy polenta
mushrooms tapenade with sage and truffle oil
1/4 cup of red onion or shallot
few tablespoons of olive oil
1-2 cups chopped portibello mushrooms
1-2 tablespoons fresh chopped sage
1 splash of dry white wine
a few tablespoons of truffle oil
start by warming up a little olive oil in a pan. add the onion and saute for a few minutes until soft. add in mushrooms and saute until mushrooms are soft as well. add a splash of white wine and let it reduce down. by the way, this smell will make you go insanely crazy it’s so good. refrain from eating straight out of the pan because there is a little more awesomeness to come. remove from heat, stir in chopped sage and drizzle some truffle oil. de.li.cious. you can still make it without the truffle oil, but it really does make the dish amazing.