Saturday, July 18, 2009

Polenta, Zucchini, and Tomato Napoleon; & Cherry BBQ Seitan

This summer vegetable napoleon has a few things going on. First, I picked up Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's The Vegan Table this week, and made a pan of polenta with sun-dried tomatoes and fresh garden herbs, from her beautiful "polenta hearts" recipe. She includes nutritional yeast in her polenta recipes - the nutritional yeast flavor isn't as pronounced as it is in most vegan cheese recipes, but it adds a subtle yet rich dimension to polenta.

I went all fancy and made this napoleon stack because I wanted to do something special with my first tomato of the summer, which I picked up with a bunch of other goodies at the Fargo farmer's market down by the river...I try to make it down there every Saturday morning during the summer. It's amazing to taste the first real tomatoes of summer, after eating canned tomatoes or the ones from the supermarket all winter and spring. The zucchini comes from my garden, and I used my new cookie cutter to make the round polenta slices - both the zucchini and polenta were lightly sauteed in olive oil. That's basil and mint pesto - both fresh and local! - on top of and underneath the polenta and veggies.

Quick thoughts on The Vegan Table: I was really looking forward to Patrick-Goudreau's new book, since I'm a huge fan of her first, the Joy of Vegan Baking. Besides the wonderful, creative recipes and beautiful photos, I really appreciate the thoughtful essays and commentary throughout the book. She's a wonderful advocate for veganism and compassionate living, and it's so cool that vegans have a new book focused on entertaining and cooking for friends and family.

Fresh cherries are one of my very favorite summer treats, and I love this short window when Washington cherries are bargains at the grocery store - they're 98 cents a pound this week, and off sesaon they're 5 bucks a pound sometimes. I've been eating cherries every day for about two weeks, and made this BBQ style sauce with them. If I remember right, here's what I used - this was very much put together at random, tasting as I went along:
20 fresh red cherries, pits removed
2 medium tomatoes, diced
2 small white onions, diced
4 cloves garlic
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
3 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. agave nectar
1 tbsp. Jim Beam bourbon, just because
1 tbsp. guajillo chili powder
1 tbsp. tamari or soy sauce

I may be forgetting something, but BBQ sauce is really flexible. I processed everything to a smooth puree in the food processor, then simmered for around 45 minutes over low heat. The result looks exactly like cranberry sauce, but the taste had the right elements of sweet, sour, and savory of a good BBQ sauce. Served with herbed mashed potatoes and seitan fried in a little olive oil and a tiny bit of agave nectar, which helped give it a good browned exterior.

A couple more snapshots here - I need some mac and cheeze once in a while, and my recipe is always changing, and comes from a mix of cookbooks and blogs...this time I used tahini and soaked cashews for a really creamy sauce.

Finally, I made this ratatouille with white beans and zucchini (remember, I'm up to my neck in garden zucchini for the rest of summer!), also a recipe from The Vegan Table. I made this into more of a soup than what I usually see labelled ratatouille. Fresh herbs really made this shine, and a reminder to enjoy summer while it lasts - I managed to work fresh basil, rosemary, sage, and Italian parsley into this, and the fresh herbs really make all the difference.


nora said...

OMG that is such a huge stack! Haha, I was so surprised when I clicked the link to the post and saw that!

That cherry BBQ sauce looks delicious--good work!

Anonymous said...

The napoleon looks lovely. I'm guessing a stack that huge fell apart as soon as you tried to eat it? lol

Andrea said...

I've been considering buying Colleen's cookbook, and you given me a little nudge to finally do it.

I thought I got a bargain when I picked up a 3# tub of organic Washington sweet cherries for $6! I've been eating them by the handful.

Mike K said...

Right :) - the stack was a little over the top...would be more reasonable to do just one layer of each, for serving purposes. I just got a little carried away - it was sort of like playing jenga in reverse :)

Sal said...

I always sucked at jenga so that stack would totally have fallen down if i'd made it. Impressive!!

Cherry bbq sauce - that sounds awesome and you've made me want mac n cheeze now!!

Anonymous said...

hehe playing mikey good spread....the stack looks absolutely fabulous...only the best from you!

Beam some food over dude!

Anonymous said...

wow your dishes look so hearty.I like your blog will add it to my blogroll

Sophie said...

MMMMMM,...The Napoleon looks so tasty!!

I love it!!

dreaminitvegan said...

That polenta stack is very appealing to the eyes! I'm hungry!
I love Colleen's polenta recipe it is so tasty.

Anonymous said...

nice opinion.. thanks for sharing...