In celebration of Vegan MoFo, I’m doing a month of themed dinner party ideas! The theme of the first week is… The Wizard of Oz!
After watching the awe of Oz, one has to wonder… Once she returned to the dusty black and white of Kansas, did Dorothy Gale ever regret that she gave up Technicolor?
In the Emerald City she wanted so deeply to fly from wizards and spells and back to Kansas. When Glinda told her how she could leave, with an I’ll miss you most of all and a click of her heels, she left without a thought. Now here she was back in a world of fences, and did she ever wish she hadn’t traded rainbows for wheat fields?
Dorothy gave up her ruby slippers, glittering and vibrant, for Mary Jane’s and ankle socks. But did she ever wish that she hadn’t turned her soulful scarecrow back into a simple farmhand or her deep Tinman into an ordinary Huck? Professor Marvel was just a trailer-bound soothsayer, but in another world he could turn cowards into lions.
When Elmira Gulch could no longer fly or command winged monkeys… When the former Witch was just a bitty on a bicycle, enslaving little dogs and wielding her powers on young girls, did Dorothy remember the embodiment of magic she used to be?
If you can’t find happiness in your backyard, you never lost it in the first place. But what if there’s more than your own backyard? When she gave up the Emerald City for plains, did she ever fall asleep at night in black and white and shades of gray and ache to dream herself onto the Yellow Brick Road?
Serves 4 as an appetizer
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil + extra for oiling glass baking dish and browning polenta
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth (or water + half of a vegetable bouillon cube)
- 1/2 cup De La Estancia polenta*
- 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
- Salt & pepper, to taste
*De La Estancia is a fine grain polenta that is not an instant product but cooks very quickly. If you’re using another brand of polenta, you’ll need to adjust the liquid, polenta amount, and cooking times accordingly.
Lightly oil an 8×8 glass baking dish or pie dish and set aside. (If you double the recipe, use a larger baking dish, so that the polenta bricks don’t get too thick.)
In a medium-sized soup pot, saute garlic in a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. After a couple of minutes, once the garlic is translucent and fragrant, add the vegetable broth (or water + bouillon), basil, and oregano to pot. Once it is simmering, add the polenta slowly to the pot, stirring constantly until the polenta gives away from the edges of the pot. Add in the nutritional yeast flakes, and continue stirring until it has thickened, about one minute. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour the polenta into the oiled baking dish and move to the refrigerator to firm overnight (or at least 4 hours).
Once the polenta is firm, cut it into brick-sized slices. Heat a skillet to a medium heat and add enough oil to the pan to lightly cover it. Once the oil has heated, add a small pinch of polenta to the pan to see if oils bubble around it. If they do, the oil is ready. Shallow fry the polenta in batches, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Once one side is brown, flip to the other side and brown. Remove the polenta to a plate, and continue with the remaining batches. Serve with Ruby Red Marinara.
Adapted from Former Chef
Makes about 1 cup
- Water, for boiling and ice bath
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 red onion, chopped small
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 medium-sized ripe tomatoes, peeled and seeded
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- Pinch of thyme
- Pinch of rosemary
- Salt & pepper, to taste
Fill a medium-sized soup pot with water and bring to a boil. Core three tomatoes and score the bottoms with an X. Carefully lower the tomatoes into the boiling water. Boil for 30 seconds, and then move the tomatoes to a bowl filled with ice water. Leave the tomatoes in the ice water for 30 seconds and remove. The peels should remove easily from the tomatoes. Open each of the tomatoes and remove the seeds, catching any juice on a plate.
In the medium-sized soup pot, saute onions and garlic in extra virgin olive oil under a medium heat. Once fragrant and translucent, about five minutes, add peeled and seeded tomatoes. (Using a sieve to catch any seeds, squeeze the leftover tomato skins and any tomato juice from the plate over the pot to make use of all of the tomato juice.) Turn the heat to low, add basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Cook the sauce for an hour and a half, stirring occasionally, until thickened and condensed. For a smooth sauce, blend with an immersion blender.