Monday, April 21, 2008

Polenta with Spinach, Black Beans, and 'Goat Cheese'

Polenta is a great base for vegan meals. It has seven grams of protein per serving with only 2 grams of fat and next to no sugars. For an even easier preparation, it's sold in the refrigerated section (usually near the tofu) in pre-made tubes, ready to be sliced and topped however you see fit. This recipe uses uncooked polenta which cooks in all of three minutes and then serves as a base for this black bean topping, providing even more protein.

Heat half a teaspoon of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add one minced garlic clove and saute for one minute. Add 1/4 cup of vegetable broth, 3/4 cup black beans, rinsed (about half a 15-oz can), a 1/4 tsp of cumin and 2 tablespoons chopped sun-dried tomatoes. (Buy the kind packed in olive oil, not the dehydrated kind). Bring to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes, then remove from heat and add 4 cups pre-packaged spinach, and toss to coat (the spinach will wilt slightly). Set aside.

Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add 1/2 cup uncooked polenta, 1/4 tsp salt and a teaspoon and a half of vegan butter. My favorite is Earth Balance's Natural Buttery Spread. Anyone who thinks that the lack of butter is a detriment to vegan cooking has never tried this stuff - much healthier than margarine or other oleos, with a buttery taste, but with no animal products, no trans fats etc. Check them out:

Reduce the heat and cook the polenta mixture for 3 minutes, stirring constantly with a whisk. The mixture will thicken, and still more so as it cools, so don't overcook!

Place 3/4 cup polenta on each of two plates. Top with 3/4 cup of the black bean/spinach mixture. Top each serving with 3 tablespoons crumbled 'cheese'. The original recipe called for goat cheese, but the best substitute is the vegan feta from Sunergia that I've already discussed (again, I used the Mediterranean Herb flavor). Sprinkle with ground black pepper and enjoy! 360 calories per serving.

sun-dried tomatoes $5.79
black beans $1.69
spinach $2.50
polenta $5.69
'goat cheese' $3.69

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The Vegan Pantry

  • Vegan yogurt - Whole Soy
  • Vegan milk - Silk
  • Vegan Feta - Sunergia
  • Vegan Cheese - Galaxy Foods
  • Vegan Eggs - Ener-G
  • Vegan Butter - Earth Balance