Polenta Cakes with Veggie Ragout {Vegan}

It’s funny how things happen.

Last Thursday, my afternoon workshop (taught by the remarkable Transpersonal Psychology coach, Marlene Milner) ended thirty minutes early. Which opened up a spontaneous space in an otherwise hectic day. If there’s ever anything that will appreciate 30 precious minutes, it’s having them pop unexpectedly into a jam-packed schedule.

I determined almost immediately that I was going to breathe leisure all over these 30 minutes. I was going to take them one at a time, feel my toes touch them, suck in their heavenly scent. I climbed into my car and started heading to a favorite secret lunch spot where I could tuck into a corner and read a gossip magazine as if I was a chameleon plastered to a tree. No one would know. And praise be to that. Gossip magazines are so deliciously not my thing. Except when they are.

So this plan is slowly forming in my mind, I can almost taste a pot of hot brown rice and the latest on Jessica Simpson’s swollen belly.

And then I pass an antique shop.

Not one of those dusty old antique shops with odds and ends like nobody’s business. This one was gorgeously legit. I could tell as I rubbernecked it past the front windows. There were treasures inside. All sorts of bobbles and buttons to be discovered.

In an instant, I peeled into a parking space, ditched all plans to eat lunch, and tip toed around the shop for a solid 27 minutes. When it came time to check out, I stood there for another 27 minutes as the silver-haired store clerk handwrote every.single.detail for every.single.one of the 17 dishes I discovered.

Booth 25c, Robin’s Egg Blue bowl with scoop, $7.50

Booth 12f, Grey Salad plate with scalloped rim, $4

Booth 69e, Turquoise Dinner Plate with toille design, $3.98

Booth 69e, Turquoise Dinner Plate with toille design, $3.98

Booth 69e, Turquoise Dinner Plate with toille design, $3.98

Booth 69e, Turquoise Dinner Plate with toille design, $3.98

Oh yes she did write every single plate down on their own separate lines, even if I purchased four of them all at once. Oh yes she did.

Thoroughness is a highly under-appreciated art these days.

So is polenta. That creamy, rich take on cornmeal.

Yes, that was a segue. No I’m not writing it four times in a row.

I already told you. Thoroughness is a highly under-appreciated art these days. Now go eat your polenta.

With this recipe, you’ll want to eat it time and time again. On turquoise dinner plates with toille designs, from booth 69e.

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Polenta Cakes with Veggie Ragout {Vegan}

Yield: Serves 6

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

This is one of those lazy day meals. One of those comfort food meals. One of those can't-get-enough of it meals. Pre-made polenta is sliced into thin pancakes, pan-friend until golden brown, then topped with a simple sauce that is so rich and full of flavor you might just want to paddle through it with your lips. The polenta lends a beautiful, heartiness to the meal, and Gardein chicken strips are tossed in for good measure. So, even meat eaters shouldn't have a guff with this totally vegan eat.

Ingredients:

1 tube prepared polenta, sliced into 1/2" rounds (look for it near the pasta section of most health food grocers)
5 tablespoons coconut oil or olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
2 small zucchini, diced
1 (6.5 ounce) container marinated artichoke hearts
1 (7 ounce) package Gardein chick'n strips (optional)
1 tablespoonish each fresh chopped basil, marjoram and/or sage
1 (28-ounce) can Muir Glen diced tomatoes
2 Not-Chick'n bouillon cubes
1 cup panko bread crumbs
3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3/4 teaspoon dried Italian Seasoning
pinch cayenne (or more, if you'd like it hotter)

Directions:

In a large, nonstick saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of the coconut oil over high heat. Salt and pepper each of your polenta rounds, then pan fry them until golden brown on each side, adding coconut oil as needed to keep the bottom of the pan coated.

In a large pot, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and onion. Saute for about a minute, then add the yellow bell pepper. Saute for an additional minute, then toss in the zucchini, the artichoke hearts, and the Gardein chick'n strips. Add the diced tomatoes, fresh herbs, and bouillon cubes. Cook just until boiling, then remove from heat. Salt & pepper, if needed.

Once the polenta cakes have all been fried, toss the bread crumbs, red pepper flakes, dried Italian seasoning, and cayenne pepper into the hot saucepan. Cook just until the breadcrumbs are lightly toasted, and have turned golden brown.

Serve the hot polenta cakes covered in the veggie sauce, and sprinkles with spicy breadcrumbs. Enjoy!

Vegan, vegetarian

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14 Responses to “Polenta Cakes with Veggie Ragout {Vegan}”

  1. 1

    Bev Weidner on March 28, 2012 at 8:08 am Reply

    I want to crawl inside that and live forever.

    • Brooke replied: — March 29th, 2012 @ 9:24 pm

      Come, crawl, live!

  2. 2

    Pam C on March 28, 2012 at 10:38 am Reply

    I cannot decide which one is prettier: the turquoise dinner plate or the food. I think the polenta is winning.

    • Brooke replied: — March 29th, 2012 @ 9:24 pm

      I don’t know…I’m so in love with those plates, too. Such a toss up! XO!

  3. 3

    Adrienne @ How to Ice a Cake on March 28, 2012 at 12:04 pm Reply

    Love your new plates! And there is nothing better than a hot plate/bowl of polenta with a tomatoey sauce on top :D

    • Brooke replied: — March 29th, 2012 @ 9:23 pm

      You are NOT kidding! Polenta plus tomato equals AWESOME!

  4. 4

    Kendra on March 28, 2012 at 4:06 pm Reply

    That story just makes me smile! :) Really – every single piece? Aren’t you glad you stopped at 17?!

    • Brooke replied: — March 29th, 2012 @ 9:21 pm

      You have NO IDEA!! LOL!

  5. 5

    ErinCroutons on March 29, 2012 at 12:37 pm Reply

    I seriously love your tone of voice on every post. I feel like everyone can relate to the hectic-ness that is life these days. Oh and the polenta looks heavenly!

    • Brooke replied: — March 29th, 2012 @ 9:19 pm

      Oh, you darling. THANK YOU! We all be hectic some days, huh?!

  6. 6

    anna on March 30, 2012 at 9:41 pm Reply

    oooo i love dishes! yours are gorgeous, and match your site! also this looks fabulous.

  7. 7

    Amy Powell on March 31, 2012 at 8:18 am Reply

    I absolutely LOVE polenta! It’s one of my favorite things to eat & when I’m on a Vegan kick, I eat it pretty much every day. There’s this butternut squash, spinach polenta lasagna I make that’s amazing :)

    and love those dishes!

  8. Pingback: Meal Plan: Recipes Fresh From the Farmers’ Market | Mom it Forward

  9. 8

    Skye on April 2, 2012 at 1:29 pm Reply

    I’ve been wanting to try polenta- I’ve never cooked with it before. This looks amazing and will definitely be the first polenta dish I try! :)

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