Grilled Polenta and Vegetable Stacks

For a pile of vegetables- this is amazing. I know that it's weird for a vegan (and also rather inconvenient), but I'm not a fan of grilled vegetables. This is primarily because it's the hot equivalent of a salad at restaurants that don't offer any vegan options. I used to get so annoyed as a teenager when I stopped eating meat and we'd go to a steakhouse for a family dinner and an aunt or someone would say, "oh look, you can eat- they have salad!" Of course, those were back in the days when salads were vegetarian- before the mounds of grilled chicken, beef, bacon or ham were involved.

I digress. This is about the Grilled Polenta and Vegetable Stacks from the (what else) Real Food Daily cookbook. It involves making your own polenta (shockingly easy and FAR tastier than store bought), marinading the mushrooms in handmade vinegrette, making tofu ricotta and a tomato-saffron Coulis. In other words, this is a typical hours long RFD recipe that is delicious and awesome and worth the work.

If you use a biscuit cutter for the polenta (recommended), you'll have loads of left over odd shaped pieces left, which are super perfect for making the BBQ Tempeh with Polenta Stuffing from Appetite for Reduction the next night.

For the Coulis, which is amazingly delicious, I went to a specialty spice shop to get saffron. I know that it's a super expensive spice, but it was $35 for a gram there. I vented on Facebook about that and got the super helpful suggestion that I should go to Trader Joes (where I found a $6 jar). Granted, the more expensive stuff is probably better, but... I shall never know since I used the TJ's one.

Anyway, all of the flavors of this work together brilliantly and in a way that I wonder how a person (Ann Gentry) envisions before making up a recipe like this. There's the deep, rich, almost meaty flavor of the grilled mushroom and eggplant, the creamy tofu ricotta, the hearty polenta and the light, tomato based sauce all melding and having a grand party in your mouth as you eat (what, I'm not a writer- I'm a foodie).

Also, another great thing about making this was that it was the first time that I used a fresh fennel for anything (the sauce), and nature is so crazy. To make a thing that looks like celery but smells like anise when you cut it is just kooky. But the recipe is great, we loved it and super loved using the grill to make booshie food!

Tamarind BBQ Tempeh & Sweet Potatoes with Polenta Stuffing

These two recipes are from Appetite for Reduction, and though I've only tried three or four from this book, these are the best so far. I picked this dish solely b/c I wanted to use my Tamarind Concentrate that I bought at Indian Sweets and Spice. The tempeh/ sweet taters get marinaded and baked in a high heat oven similarly to RFD's tempeh treatment for the Sweet and Sour Tempeh, which is amazing. Tempeh is so nutty anyway, that marinading it and roasting or baking it like this really makes it hearty and flavorful. I could make these types of tempeh and pretty much throw it in a bowl and eat it like popcorn. But, the other flavors help too. The marinade was smoky, sweet and tart all at once. The sweet potatoes balanced the nutty, hearty tempeh, and the polenta (a separate recipe) was a lighter, delicious compliment to the BBQ dish.

Also, the "Appetite..." book lists calories and nutritional info, so it's nice to see that the BBQ dish has 530% of the daily required Vitamin A, 17 g of protein, and only 380 cals per serving. Coupled with the polenta, it was still around 600 cals or so each for dinner, which is great when a dish is this delicious and filling. Davey put in a request that we make this once a week- which I'll add to the list of 20 or so other recipes that he'd like to have weekly! (It's great to cook for such a fellow foodie!)