Thursday, October 30, 2008

Polenta with Port-Poached Quince and 'Blue Cheese'

This is a great appetizer to serve at any party, but especially fun for Halloween since it's orange-y in color - although as you poach the quince, your kitchen will smell like Christmas!

You can make the quince ahead of time. Simply combine one cup apple juice (try to buy an organic variety without any added sugar), one cup tawny port, 1/4 cup raw sugar, and one rosemary sprig in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then add one cup of peeled, cored and chopped quince. Reduce the heat to medium-low (it should just be at a simmer) and simmer for 45 minutes.

Let cool to room temperature before draining through a sieve over a bowl. Store the quince and the reserved cooking liquid separately until ready to make the rest of the recipe - discard the rosemary.

When it comes close to serving time, return the reserved liquid to a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then cook for ten minutes until it reduces to about 1/4 cup. Keep warm.

Meanwhile, coat a large skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Slice a (16-ounce) tube of polenta into 14 (1/2-inch thick) slices. Place in a single layer in the pan, sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. black pepper, and cook for 8 minutes. Turn over and cook another 8 minutes.

Place the polenta slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Top each with one tablespoon quince and one teaspoon of crumbled vegan blue cheese (try the Soy Blue from Sunergia) - broil in the oven for 2 minutes.

Place the polenta rounds on a platter and drizzle with the reduced cooking liquid. 2 rounds make an appetizer serving of 150 calories. Serve warm.

A note on the port: as with wines, some ports are filtered with animal byproducts. If this troubles you, look for one that is vegan; yes they are out there. Casal dos Jordoes makes a tawny port that is certified vegan, although a bit pricey, so you may only want to opt for that if you're a port drinker and intend to finish the bottle. You can order it online from: (which also has tons of vegan wine!)

apple juice $2.00
tawny port $11.99
quince $1.98
polenta $2.79
'blue cheese' $4.19

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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