it all started innocently enough. some days i dig epicurious endlessly for a recipe that i feel would be killer when veganized;and then i found it: cheesy polenta lasagna with mushrooms and seitan. DING DING DING! but, i’m the kinda girl who scoffs at ingredients such as a $3.50 tube of polenta, and a $4.99 pack of seitan that i know damn well i can make cheaper, and a hell of a lot tastier. so, i hi-tailed it down to the co-op and stocked my pantry. it was soooo worth it! dinner was crispy, creamy, salty-umami happiness but there was a hiccup; it wasn’t the lasagna i’d set out to make. i’d learned long ago from alton brown (love you!) that to make a tube of polenta, you just pour the polenta into a cylinder of sorts, chill it, and pow! polenta. but i guess an hour and a half in the fridge just wasn’t long enough, because when i slid the parchment-coated glory out of its mold, the center was still molten grits, and they overflowed across my counter-top. oops. but, never fear! the counter was clean, and without missing a beat, i scraped every bit of gritty goodness off of the counter and into a lightly oiled pie pan. dinner was saved, and i’m not sure i ever want to eat polenta any other way again! if you dare, make your polenta the morning of, or night before to ensure your results, and use the recipe here as a guide to slicing and filling. oh-and you’ll need to double everything i’ve listed
Shallot Polenta with Seitan and Creminis.
1 cup polenta, aka grits
3 cups vegetable stock
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
in a heavy bottomed sauce pan, saute the shallots in olive oil until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes. add in the garlic and cook for another minute. now add the stock and raise the heat to a boil. when the stock boils, whisk in the polenta and turn the heat to low. cook, stirring occasionally until extremely thick-like oatmeal. i let mine go for about 45 minutes while i prepped everything else. once ready, pour into a lightly oiled pie plate and pop into the freezer to chill down until firm-but not frozen! if you want to get crazy, line the inside of a bar shaker, bean can, or another tall, evenly shaped cylinder with parchment paper, and pour your polenta in.
1 cup vital wheat gluten
3 tbs nutritional yeast
1/2 cup vegetable stock
2 tbs mushroom sauce/stock
2 tbs annies vegan worcestershire, or soy sauce
2 cups stock + 1/4 c soy sauce
bring the 2 cups stock plus the 1/4 cup soy sauce to a low boil in a wide, heavy bottomed skillet. mix the vital wheat gluten with the yeast, and in a separate bowl whisk together the liquids. using a spatula, combine the wet with the dry until a lumpy dough forms. knead briefly to activate the strings of gluten. flatten the dough to a disk the size of a salad plate, maybe 7 inches in diameter, and slide gently into the simmering stock. turn the heat to low, and cook for 10-15 minutes on each side. remove to a plate to cool.
1 1/2 cups almond milk
3 tbs olive oil
3 tbs flour
2 tbs cashew butter
1 tbs nutritional yeast
1 tsp each garlic and onion powder
pinch of fresh nutmeg
combine the flour and oil in a sauce pan over medium high heat, whisking until bubbling and slightly whitened. whisk in the cashew butter, and slowly follow with the milk. keep whisking until thick and bubbling. add in the yeast, and the spices and use salt if desired.
10 oz cremini mushrooms
1 tbs fresh thyme
2 cloves garlic
preheat the oven to 375
clean and slice the mushrooms and saute in olive oil until they have released moisture and have browned. chop the seitan into 1/2 x 1 inch long pieces and add to the pan. continue to cook until the seitan has browned,and then toss in the garlic and thyme, and remove from the heat. remove the pan of polenta from the fridge/freezer, and spread about 1/2 c of the bechamel sauce over the top. sprinkle evenly with the mushroom/seitan mix, and drizzle the top with as much of the remaining sauce as you’d like. pop into the oven and bake for 30-45 minutes, or until the edges have browned and begun to bubble.
i know this looks like a LOT of work, but trust me, you can get it done fast while the polenta chills and the seitan simmers! to make this dish gluten-free, swap chickpea flour for the regular flour, and try marinating tempeh or tofu in the seitan liquid! i served this with some green beans sautéed with cherry tomatoes, garlic, and dijon mustard thinned with some water.