Lucky Scatterbrain [Best of Fall Vegetable Polenta Bake]

Cheesy creamy polenta topping a mix of flavourful fall vegetables. Vegan comfort food boasting with vitamins.

Two secrets to getting out of a cooking rut: getting yourself into troubles and being scatterbrained.

Polenta casserole 3

The Farmers’ Market is a dangerous place to go for me so that’s where the trouble part comes from. Even if I meant to pick up just one ingredient with a recipe using it in mind it never happens. Never. I don’t even know why I’m still trying to fool myself into believing it. The second I set foot onto the market I’m lost. Or should I say: my salary? In my defense, walking past a dozen stalls brimming with the freshest produce, most delightfully scenting breads and local honey [ even of the very rare kind!] until you get to the one you’d originally settled on is torture.

Long story short I didn’t just finally (!!) pick up the first kale of the season – can you believe it had been unavailable since the end of January? – but also lots of other autumnal produce.

Polenta casserole

About that scatterbrained part: Do you ever swear you had an ingredient at hand not even needing to check because you definitely know it’s there? Until you actually need it. Turns out you’d better have checked earlier than Saturday night with stores closed already. And when your heart’s set on a balsamic kale and butternut squash phyllo pastry it hurts just a little to notice you’re out of balsamic vinegar.

Polenta casserole 2

But lack of ingredients has the potential to boost creativity and variety is the spice of life after all. Old but true.  In hindsight I’m -very- glad I strained from my original plan because this might just be my new favourite.  The sweeteness of the soft parsnips, slightly bitter taste of the kale covered and meaty mushrooms once more mingling in a silky sauce and topped with creamy cheesy polenta? And did I mention chickpeas? Sign me up. Okay,  I guess I need to sign myself up or better yet get cooking but I recommend you do, too, for full fall flavour enjoyment. You’re welcome.

Polenta casserole 4

Also note that this is super fast and just right for lazier days because we’re preparing the polenta in the microwave.  Yes! Trust me it’s the surefire way to perfect polenta. It also saves you another dish to clean because you can eat right from the bowl you used for the polenta. I’m not going back to stovetop corn meal any time soon.

Name-wise I was torn with this dish. It’s autumn to me but I know the majority of you are used to the term fall so that’s what I ended up choosing.

Best of Fall Vegetable Polenta Bake

  • one medium Parsnip,  cut into half moons
  • one medium red onion, sliced into rings
  • Brussels sprouts (90 g) – 1/2 cup
  • Kale (50 g cleaned) – about 1 cup
  • 4-5 mushrooms, sliced thinly
  • 1 clove of garlic,  minced
  • Coconut oil for frying
  • 100 g chickpeas [1/2 cup + 1 tbsp]
  • A generous 1/4 cup passata/tomato sauce (70 g)
  • 3 tbsps soy creamer, divided
  • Salt + pepper
  • 1/2 tsp each smoked paprika and thyme
  • 1/4 cup polenta
  • 2 tbsps nutritional yeast

As involved as it might look or sound this comes together really fast.

  1. Start by sautéing the onion rings until caramelized at mediun heat. Add the garlic and fry for another minute.
  2. Sprinkle in the spices.
  3. Deglaze the pot with some water and add the Parsnip.  Cover the pot and let cook for about three to four minutes or until the parsnip is tender.
  4. Add the mushrooms,  sauté until the release some water. Then stir in the kale and let it wilt.
  5. Pour in the tomato sauce and two tablespoons of soy creamer. Stir to combine.
  6. Mix in the chickpeas.
  7. Turn off the heat and transfer the vegetable mixture to a greased baking dish.
  8. Top with the polenta and bake at 300 °F for about 20 minutes or until set.

 

  1. For the polenta: Place the polenta and 3/4 cup of water in a large microwave-safe bowl. Add a sprinkle of salt. Stir and microwave on high for 2 1/2 minutes.  Microwaves vary so stay close by to avoid boiling over.
    Remove, stir in the remaining tablespoon of soy creamer and pepper to taste. Microwave for another 2 1/2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the microwave,  stir in nutritional yeast, salt to taste and 1/2 tsp of coconut oil.

I’m sharing this lucky byproduct of scatterbrainedness with Laura, Kierston, Healthy Vegan Fridays, Gluten-Free Wednesdays, The Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck, Tasty Tuesday and Gluten-Free Fridays.

 

 

Happiness-inducing today: My main work assignment for the day. It involved visiting a daycare facility and the little ones were too adorable.

Stay in touch!

Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
Pinterest: MissPolkadot21
Bloglovin’: Let’s get living

 

Scatterbrain, going produce-buying crazy at the Farmers’ Market, …: What are your best ways out of food ruts?

What are your top three seasonal vegetables in autumn?

Do you prefer saying autumn or fall? I’ll admit ‘feeling fall-ish‘ has more of a ring to it but still, in my heart it’s all about autumn [and alliterations].

It’s a wrap, no, a crêpe! [Savoury Chickpea Crespelle]

Thin chickpea crepes with a spicy tomato-based vegetable filling baked with a quick vegan cheese sauce.

Crespelle_inside

Do you notice a trend here? First chickpea dumplings, then snacking on these special little peas and now another recipe featuring them. It’s safe to say I wasn’t lying when talking about my favourite source of protein. As an added bonus the chickpea part in this recipe comes in the form of flour not whole peas. Meaning it’s gluten-free and [hopefully] even those of you with sensible stomaches can enjoy it.

Chickpea crepes

Like previous times this recipe was inspired by one I’ve eaten in my childhood multiple times. Pfannkuchen* were a childhood lunch classic on days we had a sweet main meal. My mum would prepare a lightly sweetened batter baking piles of either plain pancakes or adding thinly sliced apples when transferring the ladlefuls of batter to the pan. As we grew older and sweet main dishes became a less frequent happening my mum found a recipe for savoury stuffed crespelle with cheese and ham in a cooking magazine. For whichever reason I woke up a few days ago knowing exactly what I wanted for lunch: that dish. Only veganized. And using chickpea flour and… oh, well, a pinch of this and that letting it strain far from the original and become its own recipe. A recipe that doesn’t need to hide and therefore has to be shared.

* literally translated as ‘pancakes’ but the German variety is different from the American so I feel the translation is misleading

Crespelle_I

One more note: yes, the long ingredient list and preparation process might seem intimidating. But trust me that I’m just being overly detailed here and the dish actually came together in a pinch. Sooner than you know you’ll be able to say: It’s a wrap, no, crêpe!

Chickpea crêpes

Chickpea Crêpes with Spicy Tomato Filling and Vegan Cheese Sauce

Crêpes

  • • Scant ½ cup of chickpea flour [50 g]
    • Mixed with ½ cup of water
    • 1 tsp cumin seeds
    • Salt and pepper

Filling:

  • • 1 small red onion, diced
  • • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • • 1 small carrot, sliced into half-moons
  • • ½ a medium zucchini, sliced into smaller-than-half-moon pieces
  • • 150-200 g chopped tomatoes [canned] – about half a can
  • • ½ tsp oregano
  • • ¼ tsp dried basil
  • • ¼ tsp smoked paprika
  • • Salt + pepper to taste
  • • 2 tbsps of corn

vegan cheese sauce

  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tbsp cornstarch or 1 tsp locust bean/ carob gum
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • dash of garlic powder
  • dash of smoked paprika
  • 3/4 cup of unsweetened non-dairy milk [I used almond]

Start by preparing your crêpes:

  1. Mix the batter and set aside for about 10 minutes.
  2. Heat a non-stick skillet on medium heat.
  3. Pour a third of the batter into the skillet and tilt it in a circular motion to spread the batter out as much as possible. You’ll want to get the largest-sized crêpes possible for best filling but no perfection needed.
  4. Cook until the the center of the crêpe is bubbling and the edges pull away from the skillet slightly.
  5. Transfer the crêpe to a plate and proceed the cooking process with the remaining batter. I got three crêpes out of it but two will be perfectly fine, too.

For the filling:

  1. Sauté the onion for about two minutes, then add garlic and sauté for another minute.
  2. Add the carrots, after a few minutes the zucchini and sauté until lightly browned.
  3. Mix in the chopped canned tomatoes and corn.
  4. Stir in spices, let simmer for a bit. Meanwhile, prepare the cheese sauce.

 

For the cheese sauce:

  1. In a small pot combine the dry ingredients.
  2. Slowly pour in 3/4  cup of almond milk.
  3. Once you’ve prepared the crepes bring the sauce to a light boil on medium heat. Stir to prevent it from forming a skin.

To assemble place about 2 tablespoons of the filling on the outer edge of a crêpe. Roll up and transfer the crêpe to a small baking dish. Repeat the filling process with the remaining crêpes.

Put any remaining filling on top of the crêpes. Give the cheese sauce another good stir and pour it on top.
Bake at 175 °C for about 20 minutes or until the sauce has set and the crepes have started to crisp at the edges [so good!].

 

crespelle_salsa

Topped with salsa – not a bad idea if you’re asking me. Other not so bad ideas include hopping over to see what everybody else has created over for Laura’s Strange but Good link-up, Kierston’s Recipe Friday, Wellness Weekends and Healthy Vegan Fridays.

Enjoy your day!

Happiness inducing today: A nice chat with the fruit vendor at the Farmers’ Market.

Stay in touch!

Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
Pinterest: MissPolkadot21
Bloglovin’: Let’s get living

 

Have you ever had crespelle or any kind of savoury crêpes?

Does anybody ever say “it’s a wrap”?

 

 

Simply perfect [Brussels Sprout Chili with Cauliflower Couscous]

There are recipes that come together on a whim and are so simply they hardly seem worthy calling a recipe. However, when thinking about the type of recipes I prefer on other blogs and in cookbooks it’s actually just this kind that I’m most likely to try. Yes, the fancy stew that calls for roasting vegetables, at the same time multitasking the homemade vegetable broth on the stove and baking your own biscuits to go along with it is tempting.

Giant white bean chili

Taking it away right here: this recipe isn’t anything like that. Let’s be honest: who has the time and patience for a dish that takes more than twice as long to prepare as eating it does? At least on a weekday afternoon or night? If you need any more convincing of how easy and fast this is the day I first tried this I had just come home ready to chew my arm off. Granted, there may or may not have been a spoonful of peanut butter and some cereal to tide me over while the chili cooked on the stove. But it still isn’t too much work to whip up on a weekday – and even less if you’re doubling the serving size.

Chili_spoon

Don’t be surprised by the random odds and ends coming together in this dish. It’s just what happens when I’m working on another produce stash that has grown into large dimensions without me noticing. And sooner than I’d like I’m faced with the task of using them up as soon as humanly possible. Or sooner.

Chili VI

When deciding what to have for lunch I knew I wanted creaminess but also a tomato-y element. Out of soy creamer I knew tomato sauce alone wasn’t going to satisfy and when I spotted the tiny remainder of butternut squash in my fridge it seemed worth a try. And it was a good try.

Brussels Sprout Chili with Cauliflower Couscous

  • ½ cup passata/tomato sauce
  • ½ cup cubed butternut squash
  • 1 heaped tbsp of salsa
  • 1/2 cup [100 g] kidney beans
  • 1/4 cup [50 g] giant white beans
  • A handful of Brussels sprouts, washed, outer layers removed and sliced thinly into disks
  • 1 cup [100 g] cauliflower
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp chili flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp dark cocoa powder

1. Heat the passata in a pot over medium heat with the cayenne pepper and oregano.

2. Add the butternut squash and let simmer until it is tender.

3. Blend the butternut squash and passata to create a thick sauce. Add about 1/4 cup of water if it’s too thick. You’ll want it to be more saucy than like a stew before you add the beans and Brussels sprouts. Let simmer for about 5 minutes. Stir in the salsa.

4. Meanwhile, process the cauliflower in a food processor until it reaches couscous/rice consistency.

5. Add the cauliflower couscous to the chili. You might need to add some more water at this point as the ‘couscous’ absorbs some of it. Cook for about 2-3 more minutes so the cauliflower softens slightly.

6. Stir in the cocoa powder, add salt and pepper and adjust seasonings to taste. It tastes best when left to sit for a while before serving to let the flavours mingle a little.

Serve whichever way you like to eat your chili. I enjoy adding a dollop of plain soy yogurt on top and a spoonful of peanut butter mixed in.

Chili_

Because I hope others agree there can never be enough easy and quick recipes in my opinion I’m linking up with Laura, Kierston, Healthy Vegan Fridays, Allergy-Free Wednesdays and Wellness Weekends. Head over to all of them for even more meal inspiration.

Have a delicious and happy Friday!

Happiness inducing today: One of my articles for the newspaper being accepted right away – and it was even for the Sports department which really isn’t my specialty.

Keep in touch:
Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
Pinterest: MissPolkadot21
Bloglovin’: Let’s get living

What’s your favourite way to eat chili? With some crusty bread for dipping? Yogurt? Hot sauce?

Are you more intrigued to try simple or more involved recipes?

Living up to my origins [Savoury Sauerkraut Bread Pudding]

Will you believe that sauerkraut has not been part of my diet for ages already? Yes, I’m German and here I am confessing that what you’d believe to basically be a staple food for me is not. Maybe my parents didn’t like it themselves or my mum simply didn’t serve it up because she knew me and my siblings wouldn’t eat it. Either way it never made an appearance on our table. Granted, my family is far from typically German – in the way we eat at least. Unless we’re talking winter and specifially Christmas, that is. When my grandma’s Rotkohl [spiced red cabbage] is a must – or somebody is going to throw a fit -, Grünkohl [kale prepared in a special way and stewed with smoked pork chops and a certain type of sausages] and other traditional dishes make an appearance.

Why, yes, I'm totally throwing in a picture of Christmas candles here.

Why, yes, I’m totally throwing in a picture of Christmas candles here.

But I digress. Sauerkraut. With me going vegetarian years ago a plethora of meat-less cookbooks have been finding their way into my parents’ house. One of these had a recipe for an oriental spin on the German classic Semmelknödel served with a side of sauerkraut. It’s one of these dishes that I’ve been preparing numerous times for me and my parents after veganizing it and I can’t get enough.

Semmelknödel

Unfortunately, though, Semmelknödel are a bit too involved to make just a single serving. Yet I’ve found myself longing for this comfort food during the recent colder days. Then I saw Amanda’s post for bread pudding and my mind got spinning … Vegan bread pudding – not that hard to do. Actually, I came up with a sweet recipe for it, too, which I’ll share soon. Back to the savoury, though.

Savoury bread puddingWhen I spotted fresh sauerkraut on a recent trip to the health food supermarket I couldn’t help but buy a bucket on a whim. Thinking about how to use it I remembered above-mentioned Semmelknödel and knew I had to satisfy my craving. Obviously that meant getting some bread – or in my case: a whole grain roll – which was a random way of overcoming a fear food. Feel free to laugh but yes: bread, rolls and the likes are still scary to me. The exact ingredients or nutritional stats? Not shown. And it’s still ingrained somewhere in my mind that they won’t fill me up. Well, I’m digressing again. All I can say is that this did most likely not just fill me up but satisfied my cravings for perfect comfort food. Bonus points for eating it with a side of candlelight. Who says it takes two for a candlelight dinner?

Savoury

Yes, this was taken at another day than the first picture.

Savoury vegan Sauerkraut Bread Pudding

  • 150 g fresh sauerkraut
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • olive or coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup passata/tomato sauce
  • 1/2 tsp smoked red paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • a pinch of cinnamon
  • 4-5 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 whole wheat roll [several days old/stale and preferably with lots of seeds], cubed*
  • 100 g/3.5 oz silken tofu
  • 1/2 tbsp cashew butter or white (!) almond butter [roasted might work but won’t add the same mild and creamy taste]
  • 1 tsp nutritional yeast
  • salt + pepper to taste
  • 75 g chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1. Sauté the onion in the oil until translucent.

2. Add sauerkraut, passata, 1/4 cup of water and spices. Let simmer at medium heat for about 15-20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile blend the silken tofu, cashew butter, nutritional yeast and 1 tbsp of water. Set aside.

4. When the sauerkraut is almost done cooking, add the mushrooms and let cook for another few minutes.

5. Add the chickpeas.

6. Transfer the sauerkraut to a baking dish, top with the breadcubes. Mix them in just slightly. You still want most of them on top so they’ll stay crisp.

7. Pour the silken tofu mixture on top spreading it over the whole dish.

8. Bake in the preheated oven [175 °C/350 °F] for 20 minutes.

* if you don’t have day-old bread sitting around you can imitate the needed crispyness by microwaving the cubed roll for about a minute

If you want to feel virtuous while eating this you could do so while reading up about the health benefits of sauerkraut ;). Comfort food and good for you? It doesn’t get any better in my opinion. [And no, I didn’t lecture myself on all its benefits and it still was amazing.]

I’m linking up with both Kierston’s Recipe Friday and – because I know some might think of this dish as strange but [more than just] good – Laura’s celebration of all things unsual, too.

 

Happiness inducing today: A chat with a sweet old lady at the Farmers’ Market. She was 80 years old, not at best health anymore but had a great attitude. A happiness inspiration.

Enjoy your weekend!

 

Are there any traditional foods or recipes from your country you didn’t eat as a child but grew to like when you got older?

Do you like sauerkraut? Any favourite recipes?