I had never before made polenta. In fact, I don’t think I had ever eaten polenta. It was one of those things that when I saw it listed on a menu I just read – butter. I am unfortunately intolerant and thought that this, and risotto, were not in the cards for me. But alas, the modern miracles of food have brought us things like Earth Balance and Ripple. It has never been easier to be dairy intolerant and I thank my lucky stars for that.
When I saw Roasted Carrot Polenta on Naturally Ella it really piqued my interest. I was on a mission to make polenta! While Bend, OR has made great progress in recent years on the food scene, it is still surprisingly difficult to find more niche ingredients. I usually only run in to this with Asian items, so I was very surprised when I could not find polenta. The only place that carried it was Food4Less, and they were sold out! Now, usually this just means an order from Amazon, but I was determined to make polenta, tonight.
What’s the difference between polenta and grits, anyway? Standing in the grocery store frustrated at the lack of selection, I googled this. Turns out, not much. Polenta is a dish usually from a certain type of italian corn (otto file) that makes the porridge slightly creamier with a richer corn flavor. But it can absolutely be made with medium grind cornmeal, so that’s what I did. Thrilled with my self for finding a way around this minor obstacle, I went home to conquer polenta.
Roasted Carrot Polenta with Toasted Walnuts
GF DF Vegan
Carrot Puree (makes 1 c) –
1/2 lb Carrots
2 Garlic cloves
2 t Olive oil
Pinch of salt
2 c water
1/2 c medium grind corn meal (or otto file polenta if you can find it!)
1/4 t salt
2 T Ripple brand half and half (or heavy cream, if you’re one of the lucky ones)
1 T Earth Balance (or butter)
1 c Carrot puree
1/4 c toasted walnuts
4 Sage leaves, optional
Preheat oven to 425f and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Wash and chop carrots in to 1/2″ chunks, no need to peel they’re being pulverized anyway. Place carrots on sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil and salt. Roast carrots for 20 min or until soft and beginning to brown around the edges.
Add water to a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and whisk the corn meal and salt in. Let simmer for 20-30 minutes on the lowest possible setting. Low and slow is the way to go! If it thickens up too much, add a splash of water.
While the polenta cooks, place the roasted carrots and garlic in to the food processor and combine until smooth. Add 1 T of liquid at a time as needed to have a thick, but smooth consistency.
It is also a convenient time to toast the walnuts while the polenta cooks.
Once the polenta has thickened and is a nice consistency, remove from heat. Stir in the half and half, carrot puree and pad of butter (I mean Earth Balance, but we can pretend, right?)
If you do choose to add sage, simply melt Earth balance over medium heat. Add sage leaves and fry 1-2 minutes on each side.
Top with the toasted walnuts and sage.
I served this with brussel sprouts, the bf also had a brown sugar chili pork loin with his.
Turns out, polenta is a very doable, fairly hands off process that resulted in an extremely tasty and versatile base. This is readily done with common pantry items, and carrots are resilient to frost and grow quickly during the summer, making them an appropriate year round crop.