Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pumpkin Polenta with Pumpkin-Seed-Sage Pesto

To all my American readers - Happy, Happy Day-Before-Thanksgiving-Dinner Day!!
(And Happy Day Of Vegan Gravy, Number 24!)

No last-minute-dinner-and-turkey-themed post here though. I'm on vacation, hiding out from cooking, food, family and the insane frenzy that accompanies this day way too often.
In fact, the Sprouts and I are in Portland, Oregon, city of all things vegan (including a million places to get vegan gravy made by people more, and possibly less, competent than myself).
I'm POSITIVE you'll hear all about our adventures soon! But until then, stay tuned with this retro-pumpkin post.

This makes a great Pumpkin-themed pre-holiday lunch, it's a nice way to use up that extra little bit of cooked pumpkin left over from Holiday baking, OR it's handy any time you want to impress the non-vegan-socks off someone.

Pesto, once again, is a "sauce", not exactly a "gravy" like you'd put over mashed potatoes, but I promise you, I've actually seen it referred to as "crushed-herb-gravy-sauce" in some of the old, 60's era European cookbooks that I have in my collection.

You can use canned plain pumpkin here if you want, or if you want to use fresh: Bake or microwave a small pumpkin (the sugar-pie type, not the big jack-o-lantern type - or any dense winter squash will work) until soft.

Scoop out squash and mash or puree. Measure out 1/2 cup squash for this recipe:

Crispy Pumpkin Polenta Triangles
1/2 cup squash or pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons soymilk
1 tablespoon margarine
1/2 tablespoon agave or maple syrup
1/2 cup polenta cornmeal (or coarse ground cornmeal)
1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more for frying

In a medium saucepan, combine the pumpkin with the water and bring to a boil. Add the soymilk, margarine, agave and a generous pinch of salt.

Add the polenta cornmeal in a thin stream, whisking constantly. Cook over low-ish heat, stirring until thickened and cornmeal is cooked - about 20 minutes.

Scrape the polenta into a loaf pan and refrigerate until firm. When firm and chilled, run a knife around the sides of the pan and unmold the polenta. Slice into 1 1/2 -inch squares/rectangles, and then crosswise into triangles;
Fry the triangles in batches, turning once, until deep golden and crisp, about 2 - 5 minutes per side.

Transfer to paper towels or brown paper bag to absorb excess oil and drain. Keep hot in low oven.

Now, make Pumpkin-Seed Sage Pesto to go with:

Pumpkin-Seed and Sage Pesto

3/4 cup lightly packed fresh sage leaves (from 2 large bunches)
3/4 cup raw, hulled pumpkin seeds/raw pepitas (about 4 ounces)
1/4 cup (packed) fresh parsley leaves
1 - 3 garlic cloves
3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
4 Tbsp raw cashew pieces
squeeze fresh lemon juice

Put cashews in bowl of food processor and blend into a fine powder.
Using on/off turns, blend sage leaves, pumpkin seeds, parsley, and garlic in processor until mixture is finely chopped.
With machine running, add 3/4 cup oil and squeeze of lemon juice and blend until thick paste forms.
Transfer to small bowl; season with salt and pepper. Warm for a few moments in a saucepan. If it gets too thick, add several tbsp. non-dairy milk.
Serve crispy hot polenta triangles with pesto sauce.
As you can see, I had a hard time getting a picture, my kids kept eating the polenta before I had enough to photograph!


Sarah P said...

The crispy polenta looks amazing by itself, but the sage pesto is such a great touch!

Luciana said...

That looks absolutely perfect!

Fanny said...

I'm a beginner in polenta making but I love it. I will definitely try this recipe!

Jeni Treehugger said...

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You've won a copy of Garlic-Onion-Beet-Spinach-Mango-Carrot-Grapefruit Juice over at the MoFo Headquarters!!
Please can you email me your details

Huge congratulations

Anonymous said...

This looks and sounds delish. I am going to have to try my hand at making this soon....should have some leftover pumpkin to use up! I was you really use that much fresh sage in yours? Here sage is 2.00 a bunch so that would be the expensive part of this meal.

Tofu Mom (AKA Tofu-n-Sprouts) said...

Kim - yeah, I grow my own so I'm sorta spoiled that way - one "bunch" would be fine, maybe not as strong a flavor, but I'm sure it'll be fine.