Polenta has it’s origins in northern and central Italy and has been eaten there for many years. Some of our guests have never tasted polenta before, or tell us they have no idea how to prepare it or what to do with it. However, polenta is incredibly versatile and fairly simple to use. We are sure you will love our polenta with oven roasted tomato recipe, which is simple to prepare.
To make polenta, corn is ground into flour or “meal”. You can purchase various grades, which raise from coarse to fine. There are some types which cook quickly in 5-8 minutes (this is the part-cooked version) whereas others take much longer to cook, sometimes up to 45 minutes. So, if you know you will want the quick cook variety, make sure you read the cooking instructions when you purchase it in the supermarket. Traditionally, polenta is cooked in boiling water, it is then set, cut into squares or rectangles and then fried.
Polenta can make a great porridge (if you get fed up of eating oatmeal porridge) if you serve it hot. Some recipes make a polenta mash to serve with a vegan sausage. You can use also polenta instead of wheat flour in cakes, which gives it a lovely texture and a slightly different taste. Alternatively, you can allow the polenta to set, then slice it, like we do in this recipe.
Here at the retreat we include polenta as one of the carb options in our lunch and dinners. Not all carbs are created equal – polenta is classed as a complex carb, which means the energy is released slowly by the body. Read more in our earlier article: what are good sources of plant-based carbs to include in my diet?. Polenta is low in fat and, relative to other grains, is lower in calories, so it is worth trying out as an option if you are looking to manage your weight.
serve with vegan bean burgers and a big leafy salad.
Prepare the polenta early and leave in your fridge until you are almost ready to eat, then heat quickly by grilling or frying.
Polenta with oven roasted tomato recipe
Calories: 510 total, 64 per serving
Oven roasted tomatoes
4 large tomatoes, cut into quarters
2 tbsp dried oregano
2 tbsp dried basil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic
3 tbsp water
1 onion, finely diced
10 large mushrooms, diced finely
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 cups of boiling water
¾ cup of quick cook polenta
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp herbs de provence
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 tbsp olive oil
First, oven bake the tomatoes. Heat your oven to a low-medium heat. Place the tomato quarters into an oven proof dish (or large baking tray) and sprinkle over all the herbs. Pour over the lemon juice, add a dash of water and shake. Place in the preheated oven and cook for 30 minutes. Shake occasionally, so that the tomatoes do not stick to the baking tray. The tomatoes will soften and start to release liquid, but should then start to go a little brown and crispy. Blitz the garlic with 3 tbsp of water (use a hand blender), then pour the garlic liquid over the tomatoes and put back into the oven. Continue to cook for a further 15 minutes.
While the tomatoes are in the oven, make the polenta. Water fry the onions in a pan on a medium heat until they become soft (around 7 minutes). Add the mushrooms and lemon juice, and continue to cook for another 5 minutes, stirring. Add a little water as needed to prevent sticking.
Add the ¾ cup of boiling water into the pan. Make sure the water returns back to a boil then add the polenta little by little while whisking vigorously, to prevent lumps. Once all the polenta has been added, stir in the dried herbs, cover the pan and turn the heat down. Simmer on very low heat for 5 minutes if you are using quick cook polenta (check your cooking instructions and cook for longer if necessary). Keep stirring every now and then. Once cooked, add the fresh herbs.
Pour the polenta mixture into a flat baking pan (make sure the baking pan has sides to it). Spread the mixture well with a wet spatula. Let the polenta cool down in the fridge for at least an hour.
Remove from the fridge and check that it is set. Cut the polenta into squares or rectangles. To serve hot, you can either pan fry the polenta (on both sides) with a little olive oil and water until it gets golden brown. Alternatively, grill for a few minutes on either side.
Serve, with the oven roasted tomatoes next to it and a sprinkle of fresh basil.
Plant-based food on a health and wellbeing retreat
If you have enjoyed this recipe, you can find more on our blog (search for recipe ideas using the search box or click on the “food recipe” category).
You can try our delicious plant-based food here at La Crisalida health and wellbeing Retreats. It´s your choice whether to eat or juice, for each meal. Lunches are served buffet style, and dinner is family style, so you can try every dish.
About the author
- Lisa is one of the founders of La Crisalida Retreats. She is an Epidemiologist, therapeutic hatha and yin yoga teacher and also teaches mindfulness meditation. Lisa has studied NLP and hypnosis, as well as nutrition (she designs the menus).