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Creamy Vegan Polenta Recipe
Make delicious vegan creamy polenta a staple dish in your home with this easy recipe. Simple, reliable, and versatile - this perfect warming winter meal can be jazzed up with any number of tasty seasonal veggies!
Pasta, risotto, and couscous are all things of the past, show off your culinary prowess and impress all of your dinner guests by cooking up a ‘polenta’ storm at your next soirée.
Rich, creamy, and totally delicious, polenta is a versatile base carb that can be easily jazzed up according to your tastes and preferences.
This article will provide you with a basic overview of how to make a tasty vegan polenta, and give you some ideas on how to serve it. So let’s get into it.
What Is Polenta?
A staple dish across much of Northern Italy, Switzerland, and the Balkans polenta - in its most simple form - is a porridge-like dish made from boiled cornmeal or other grains.
Eaten throughout the northern Mediterranean since Roman times, polenta has long been hailed for its high nutritional value and status as a complex carbohydrate, meaning that it can be easily digested and leaves you feeling fuller for longer.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, but polenta sure as hell helped them along the way! Or so the famous expression goes…
Traditionally, polenta (aka ground cornmeal) is left to simmer away in a watery liquid at a 1:4 ratio for about 45 minutes until it thickens to a porridge-like consistency.
Designed to be seasoned, spiced, and garnished with the herbs and spices of your choosing, polenta is a wildly varied dish that can be “pimped” in any number of ways.
So whether you want a base for rich and saucy dishes, or are looking for something to go alongside your roasted seasonal veggies, polenta may be just the thing for you! Read on for one of our favorite Vegan Creamy Polenta Recipes.
What Kind of Cornmeal Should I Use For Polenta?
Though historically, polenta was made from a wide range of grains including yellow maize, white maize, buckwheat, or a mixture of all three, nowadays most of the polenta that you find on shop shelves will be made up mostly or entirely of cornmeal.
In its most simple form, polenta is basically oatmeal, but instead of oats, you are using cornmeal. As such, you don’t necessarily need to buy something labeled ‘polenta’; any kind of cornmeal that you can get your hands on will do.
That said the better the quality cornmeal that you use, the better your polenta will be.
Cornmeal is available in different grades, ranging from coarse to fine. Generally speaking, coarser grinds make for a thicker and more grainy polenta whereas finer grains, which are found in most modern cornmeal blends, make for a smoother and creamier consistency - not much unlike a potato purée.
- Prep time: 15 minutes
- Cook time: 1 hour
- Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes
- Serves: 4
Vegetable Broth or Milk?
The question of whether to use vegetable broth, plant-based milk, or both is really a matter of personal taste or preference.
Generally speaking, using entirely oat milk or almond milk will give you a creamier consistency but there is a risk that it will give the polenta a sour (overly nutty or grainy) aftertaste.
Vegetable broth, on the other hand, will naturally season your polenta meaning that you don’t have to worry so much about how much salt, pepper, herbs, vegan butter, or vegan cheese you need to adjust the flavor.
Cheeze it up
Many classic polenta recipes associated with northern Italian and Swiss cuisine recommend a local washed-rind or hard cheese such as parmesan or pecorino.
Vegans can easily sub-in these dairy cheeses with a plant-based nut cheese. We would recommend going for Vioife’s Just Like Parmesan which can be easily grated and melts perfectly into a hot bowl of polenta.
Alternatively, nutritional yeast is a sure-fire way to ‘cheesify’ your vegan creamy polenta, simply stir in one tablespoon once your polenta is ready and allow it to melt into the mixture.
Creamy Vegan Polenta Recipe
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Servings: 4
Here’s what you need:
- 2 tablespoons of plant-based butter
- 2 cups of water
- 2 cups of broth
- 1 cup of coarse or fine cornmeal
- ½ cup of plant-based milk, we like oat milk best
- A selection of fresh herbs: rosemary, thyme, bay - you name it!
- Sea salt
- Begin by heating your selection of herbs in your chosen plant-based milk in a saucepan at low heat. Leave to simmer for up to 15 minutes to allow the flavors to fully infuse the milk before removing the herbs with a slotted spoon or spatula.
- Next, in a larger saucepan, bring the water and vegetable broth to a boil before adding the plant-based milk.
- Add your cornmeal to the liquid and leave to cook for up to 45 minutes, stirring regularly until you have achieved a thick and creamy consistency.
- Season to taste and stir in two tablespoons of your dairy-free butter.
- Serve hot with your chosen vegetables and sauce.
Herbs, Herbs, Herbs!
Here at PlantX we always recommend that you make the most of whatever ingredients you have available. No point wasting time, money, or energy running to the grocery store to get an ingredient that can be easily substituted. Here’s a quick ‘Herb’ guide for polenta, but feel free to get creative and try out some of your own herb pairings.
Rosemary, Thyme & Bay Leaves: This classic French herb bundle is traditionally used in a variety of meat dishes. Infusing your vegetable broth or plant-based milk with these herbs will naturally give your polenta a depth of flavor and refreshing aroma.
Basil & Oregano: Viva L’Italia! This herb blend is guaranteed to spruce up your polenta. Basil is a rich and fragrant herb that can elevate the taste of, otherwise bland, polenta and oregano adds a lil’ bit of irresistible freshness!
To Wrap It All Up...
Low-hassle, easy, and works every time - use this basic vegan polenta recipe as your Bible for a good quality standard polenta. Follow these simple steps for a delicious base polenta that can be dressed up with your favorite sauces and toppings! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
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