Polenta veggie slices + a sneaky day trip

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It was a long weekend this weekend. And the first long weekend I had completely FREE of work in about…oh….2-3 years?! Sad. But also coincidentally and ironically funny because the public holiday was Labor Day. I don’t feel entitled to a great many things in life, but I definitely felt entitled to (and grateful for) having this weekend off.

So I squeezed in a little sneaky day trip to Yanchep National Park (because koalas) & Moore River. I won’t bore you with the details of just how nice the day was (it was gorgeous), but I do want to share some beautiful photos of lazy koalas and baby Joeys (also known as baby kangaroos to the rest of the world).

Tales of a Kitchen / Yanchep National Park

Tales of a Kitchen / Yanchep National Park

Tales of a Kitchen / Yanchep National Park

Tales of a Kitchen / Yanchep National Park

Notice a recurrent theme?

Tales of a Kitchen / Yanchep National Park

Tales of a Kitchen / Yanchep National Park

Tales of a Kitchen / Yanchep National Park

Tales of a Kitchen / Yanchep National Park

Tales of a Kitchen / Yanchep National Park

For this much anticipated trip & mid day picnic, I OBVIOUSLY made some food. In addition to the ‘traditional’ peanut butter bliss balls and fruit, and after thorough deliberations with my mum, I decided to attempt some veggie polenta squares/slices. Not something I (or my mum) made before, but what the heck, we thought they would be easy enough and delicious. And they are!

Tales of a Kitchen / Polenta veggie slices

They travel very well, so they’re perfect for grab and go and picnics and in your lunchbox. But they are also beautiful when warm and fresh out of the oven with a fresh salad on the side.

The best and quickest way to do this recipe is to cook the veggies same time with the polenta. If you don’t feel you can successfully attempt both at the same time, that’s totally cool, do the veggies first.

Tales of a Kitchen / Polenta veggie slices

Tales of a Kitchen / Polenta veggie slices

Now, I asked the other day on Insta if you guys know what polenta is and some of you didn’t. It’s totally cool, I don’t judge. So much food, so little time! It’s basically a corn porridge. It’s awesome (I think) as a savory side, instead of rice or other grains. Ans it’s beautiful with hearty, wintery veggie stews!

Polenta veggie slices

Serves aplenty!

Ingredients for the veggie mix

  • 2 Spanish onions, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 cup chopped sweet potato
  • 1 red capsicum, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 250g spinach (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 TBSP mixed Italian herbs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a bit of olive oil for cooking

Ingredients for the polenta

  • 7 cups water
  • 2 cups coarse polenta (cornmeal)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 4 TBSP nutritional yeast flakes (optional but delicious)
  • 2 tomatoes, thin slices
  • 1 TBSP Italian mixed herbs
  • 2 TBSP bread crumbs (I used Panko)

Steps

  1. Add olive oil, the onions, garlic and potato to a pan on medium low heat and cook for 5-6 minutes.
  2. Add the red capsicum, corn, and spinach and cook for another 10 minutes.
  3. Add the herbs and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the potato and corn are tender and there is no more water in the pan.
  4. At the same time, add 7 cups of water to a big heavy bottom pot (cast iron is good) on medium heat.
  5. Gently stir 2 cups of cornmeal using a whisk. Make sure there’s no lumps. Continue to cook until it begins to gently simmer, then lower the heat.
  6. Add the olive oil, salt, pepper, turmeric and nutritional yeast flakes and whisk to mix through.
  7. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until it becomes quite thick.
  8. Once the polenta is cooked, stir through the veggies.
  9. Preheat the oven to 200C and line a pan with baking paper.
  10. Scoop the polenta mix in the pan and make sure it’s leveled. Place the tomato slices on top, sprinkle the herbs and the bread crumbs.
  11. Bake for 25 minutes.
  12. Enjoy fresh and warm or store in the fridge. Keeps well for up to 4 days.
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