The recipe idea for this Vegan Corn & Polenta Stack has been rattling around in my head for quite a while now. I’ve actually bought corn three times with the intention of making this dish and each time I used it in an alternative meal.
In the early 90’s, polenta had it’s moment in the spotlight, it was a trendy ingredient for a brief period. It was served in restaurants and I even tried cooking a few recipes using the ingredient myself. But I was never in love with the grain, so I barely noticed it vanish from the food scene.
A few months ago Mr GG ordered a polenta burger patty from a cafe menu. My opinion changed completely, the burger patty was, light and moist on the inside with a crisp outer crust. Since that moment I have been thinking of ways to use polenta more frequently, after all it is a nutritional rich food.
Polenta is high in iron, calcium and vitamin A, low in fat and calories and gluten free. Definitely an ingredient to incorporate in a healthy eating plan. The downside is a lack of flavour, although it does take on the attributes of the ingredients used in the cooking process. With this in mind I decided to cook the polenta in a good quality vegetable stock instead of the recommended water. I also wanted to give it an additional texture as polenta is usually okay for the first mouthful and then the “sameness” of texture and taste gets boring, I decided to add fresh corn to the cornmeal (polenta).
As it turned out this is one of the most delicious dishes I have made in a long time, the flavours just work so well together. It does take a little time to get all the components together but nothing is difficult.
Vegan Corn & Polenta Stack
- 1 1/2 Tbs olive oil
- 2 red chillies
- 4 shallots diced
- 1/2 small red onion finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 3 heads of corn pre boiled
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup polenta
- 1 litre vegetable stock
- 8 tsp Balsamic vinegar
- 1 in eggplant cut thick slices
- 30 leaves rocket
- 24 leaves basil
- 1 roasted capsicum sliced
- 8 tsp chilli relish
- 1 avocado
- sweet potato chips
- In a large saucepan fry the onion, chilli, garlic and shallot in olive oil until cooked.
- Add the vegetable stock to the fried vegetables and bring the liquid to the boil.
- In the meantime cut the corn from the cobs and add it to the boiling stock.
- Add salt to the stock and gradually sprinkle the polenta into the saucepan.
- Stir the polenta continuously over a medium heat for 15 minutes. It will thicken and look like it is cooked before this time but if you don't cook it for the full time it will be heavy and grainy.
- Reduce the heat to low and cover the saucepan. Allow the polenta to cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and let the polenta stand covered for another 5 minutes.
- Once the polenta is cool enough to handle (can be the following day), form the mixture into balls. With the help of an egg ring or cookie cutter press into burger patty shapes.
- The burgers can be fried in olive oil ready to make the polenta stack or refrigerated for later use.
- Cut the eggplant in 1 1/2cm slices and bake in an oven at 180 degrees with a little olive oil, turning when they start to turn golden.
- Use a potato peeler to cut strips from a sweet potato.
- Heat oil and fry the sweet potato strips until they are golden.
- Drain and reserve until need.
- Fry the polenta burgers gently over a low heat until warmed through and crispy on the outside.
- On the serving plates drizzle some balsamic vinegar.
- Place the cooked polenta burger on the balsamic vinegar.
- Add a slice of the eggplant to the polenta.
- Spread 1 tablespoon of roasted capsicum slices over the eggplant.
- Add the rocket and basil leaves to the stack followed by the chilli relish and slices of avocado.
- Top with sweet potato fries.
Now I want to share a secret… the first time I used polenta it was an unmitigated disaster!
Firstly, I cooked it in water, blah and then tried to simply add butter and bake with cheese to give the dish flavour. I also didn’t add the polenta slowly enough to the water, so I had lumps and I didn’t cook it for 20 minutes as it seemed to be cooked. It was not good! That was in 1993 and I had totally written the ingredient off.
Have you ever totally avoided an ingredient only to find you have been missing out on something delicious?