Seared Polenta With Spicy Heirloom Tomato Sauce Recipe

Mar 20, 2014 3:00 pm

Creamy polenta firms up for a savory vegan meal

seared polenta with tomato sauce
Photo: Sara Remington
Spoon homemade heirloom tomato sauce over seared polenta cakes for a perfect vegan dinner.

Earthbound Farm co-founder Myra Goodman, along with her daughter, recently released Straight From The Earth, a cookbook of wholesome vegan recipes. If you're jumping on the veggie-loading bandwagon, this is a cookbook you'll need in your kitchen arsenal. This crispy-creamy polenta smothered in a bold tomato sauce won't leave you wanting anything but seconds. 

The polenta cooks quickly, but it needs an hour or two to cool in the fridge, so we recommend making it ahead of time or letting it cool while you cook the tomato sauce. Topped with toasted pine nuts and fresh parsley, my mom’s sauce pairs perfectly with my seared polenta cakes — making this recipe an example of our creative mother-daughter collaboration.

Reprinted with permission from Straight from the Earth

Servings: 4


Tomato Sauce
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the baking dish
1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
2 1/2 tablespoons garlic, chopped
3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
6 pounds ripe heirloom tomatoes, quartered if you are not peeling them
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons tomato paste
freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 cups plain unsweetened soymilk
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup corn grits/polenta
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour or corn flour
canola oil for frying
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted

For the sauce:

  1. Heat the oil in a large, nonreactive pot over medium heat. 
  2. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until it softens but does not brown, 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring frequently, another 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in the tomatoes, cover the pot, and cook, stirring frequently, until the tomatoes are soft, about 10 minutes.
  5. Using a potato masher, mash the tomatoes to break up the chunks.
  6. Add the tomato paste and ½ tsp salt and simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens to the desired consistency, 30 to 45 minutes.
  7. Season with salt and pepper. Add the basil and simmer for 2 minutes more, then remove pot from heat.

For the polenta:

  1. Grease a 9-by-9-inch baking pan with olive oil. Set aside.
  2. Combine the soymilk, olive oil, oregano, salt, pepper, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and 2 cups of water in a medium saucepan, and bring them to a simmer over medium heat. At the same time, bring a second pot of water to a boil.
  3. Slowly whisk the polenta into the soymilk-olive oil mixture in the medium saucepan. Continue whisking until the mixture is smooth, reducing the heat to low to avoid spattering.
  4. Cook until the polenta grains are tender, about 15 minutes, whisking regularly (it should have the consistency of cream of wheat). If it gets very thick before the polenta is fully cooked, add additional boiling water, ¼ cup at a time.
  5. Immediately pour the polenta into the prepared pan. Cool for about 20 minutes, then refrigerate until the polenta is cool, 1 to 2 hours.
  6. Cut the cold polenta into eight equal triangles using a sharp knife. First cut a vertical line down the middle, followed by a horizontal line that divides the polenta into four equal squares. Then make two diagonal cuts from corner to corner to create eight triangles.
  7. Sprinkle the flour on a flat plate and dredge each polenta triangle in flour.
  8. Ready a plate lined with several layers of paper towels.
  9. Place a large skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat and film it with a thin layer of canola oil.
  10. Sear the polenta triangles on each side until they are crispy and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add more oil as needed between batches.
  11. Transfer the seared polenta to the paper towel–lined plate to absorb excess oil. 

For assembly:

  1. Place two polenta triangles on each plate. Top with hot tomato sauce. Sprinkle with the parsley and pine nuts, and serve immediately.

Try out these polenta recipes on Food Republic:

Level of Difficulty: 
Prep Time: 
40 minutes plus cooling time
Cooking Time: 
1 hour, 20 minutes
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