Saturday, October 29, 2011

Polenta Pizza and Last Minute Saute

The other day I knew I was in trouble when I opened the fridge (at 5:15pm) to find little more than aging carrots, and old (but still good) log of polenta, leftover quinoa, a few wrinkling snap peas, 1/2 bag baby spinach, a 1/2 huge onion, and condiments. In the freezer was a 1/2 bag of Meal Starters Chick'n Strips. Fortunately a (compact fluorescent) lightbulb went off in my head. What would you do with all this, to serve a family of 4? Here's what I came up with.

Polenta Pizza

I think I'll always keep a log of polenta in the fridge for this -- honestly it wasn't my favorite thing, but my husband and son loved it.

  • 1 log polenta, sliced into 1/4-inch slices
  • tomato sauce of your choice
  • Daiya mozz
  • olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wipe a thin layer of olive oil on a roasting pan to prevent sticking. Assemble the pizzas and place in pan. Bake until cheese melts.

Last Minute Saute

This is one of those recipes you would NOT take to the store with you to buy ingredients. This is a recipe you turn to when you have a bunch of leftovers you don't know what to do with. While mine had carrots, onions, spinach, snap peas, chick'n strips, and quinoa, yours can have any veggie, bean, faux meat, and/or grain. Here's how you adapt it.

Chop your veggies into bite-sized pieces or dice into small pieces. Heat a little olive oil or broth in a large saute pan. Add the veggies in order of how long they take to cook (I always start with onions and garlic). Keep stirring the veggies around on medium heat until they start to stick to the pan and/or things are looking a bit dry. When that happens, add vegetable broth, just enough so that there's a 1/8 to 1/4 inch pool at the bottom of the veggies. The broth should be boiling gently (not boiling so hard that the liquid is spattering and starting to burn). Next, add beans or faux meat and incorporate.

Now the fun begins. At this point, if you don't object to alcohol, add cooking wine. My favorite is sherry, but you can use any wine, even table wine if you want. If you prefer, use diluted flavored vinegar. Stir everything around. While that cooks, visit your spices and choose 2 or 3 that you think would best complement your dish thus far. Shake them in. (You might need to add more broth to keep the veggies moist.) Next, add the juice of a half to one lemon or lime. Blend and taste. At this point, you might be done. No? Ask yourself: does it need sweetness? If so, add a 1/2 tsp of vegan sugar. Does it need heat? Add pepper sauce or chili powder. Finally, add salt to taste, if it needs it. Keep cooking, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is completely absorbed.

Serve over leftover grains or in a sandwich wrap.

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