Vegan polenta stacks with BBQ squash & cashew cream
There's something about stacked food that just screams fancy. These polenta stacks would make an eye-catching entree for the holiday table or a dinner party.
This recipe requires a bit of pre-planning, but I promise, it's all easy work! Plus, the final result looks a lot more impressive than the actual task. Just make the polenta and start soaking cashews the day before your gathering, and the rest is a breeze.
Servings: 4 people
For cashew cream
- 1 cup raw cashew pieces
- ½ cup water + additional for soaking
- 1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes
- ½ teaspoon white miso paste
- 1 small clove garlic
- ¼ teaspoon salt
For polenta stacks
- 1 to 2 Tablespoons organic canola oil or other neutral high heat oil for shallow frying
- ¼ cup roasted pepitas
- 4 small sprigs rosemary optional
To make polenta
Lightly oil two glass 8x8 casserole dishes and set aside.
In a medium-sized pot, sauté garlic in 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil on a medium heat. Once translucent and fragrant, add water and vegetable bouillon cube to the pot and bring to a simmer. Once the bouillon cube has disintegrated and liquid is simmering, lower heat and slowly add polenta and nutritional yeast flakes, stirring constantly. Continue to stir the polenta until it begins to pull from the sides of the pot, about a minute. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Pour even amounts of the polenta into the two oiled dishes. Spread it across the baking dishes, so that the polenta is in an even layer.
Cover the dishes in plastic wrap, and refrigerate the polenta overnight or for several hours to harden.
To make cashew cream
Cover the cashews in water and soak for several hours or overnight. Once you're ready to make the cashew cream, drain the cashews and set aside.
In a blender, combine the soaked and drained raw cashews, ½ cup water, nutritional yeast flakes, white miso paste, garlic, and salt. Blend until smooth and creamy, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides as needed. Refrigerate the cashew cream until you're ready to assemble the polenta stacks.
To make BBQ delicata squash
Preheat oven to 420 degrees. Line one large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Lay the thinly sliced delicata squash on parchment paper-covered baking sheet and drizzle on ½ teaspoon extra virgin olive oil. Toss delicata slices with extra virgin olive oil until evenly combined. Spread the slices evenly across the sheet. Make sure they don’t touch and aren’t overcrowded.
Roast the delicata squash for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and flip the squash slices. Then brush a generous amount of barbecue sauce onto each slice. Roast for another 8 minutes until fully browned and done. Remove from oven and set aside.
To make the polenta stacks
Bring a non-stick skillet to a medium-high heat with a thin layer of organic canola oil across the bottom. Use a 3 to 4 inch biscuit cutter to cut the hardened polenta into circles.*** (If you're making square polenta stacks, cut the dishes of polenta into quarters.)
Put a small bit of polenta into the oil to check if the oil is ready. If bubbles immediately surround the polenta, it is ready.
Being careful not to overcrowd the skillet and working in batches if necessary, put several polenta circles into the oil. Shallow fry each side for about 3 minutes, until browned. Continue until all of the polenta circles have fried. (Add more canola oil to the skillet, if needed.) Once fried, move the polenta circles onto a separate plate.
Now it's time to make each stack. First, lay one polenta circle on a plate. Top with two or three circles of barbecue sauce-glazed delicata squash. Then top with a generous dollop of cashew cream. Top with another polenta circle, two or three circles of barbecue sauce-glazed butternut squash, and finish with another dollop of cashew cream. Garnish each stack with a tablespoon of roasted pepitas and a small sprig of fresh rosemary (if using).
*I use a low sodium bouillon cube. If yours is on the saltier side, you may not want to add more salt later in the polenta recipe.
**De la Estancia polenta is finely ground and cooks quickly. If you use a different polenta, you'll likely need to adjust the amount of liquid and cooking times.
***If you cut the polenta into circle shapes, you'll have extra scraps of polenta leftover. You can fry/bake it later to eat on its own. Or if you don't want extra scraps of polenta, cut the stacks into large square shapes instead.
Calories: 572kcal | Carbohydrates: 84g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 1115mg | Potassium: 1000mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 28g | Vitamin A: 1795IU | Vitamin C: 15.1mg | Calcium: 79mg | Iron: 4.6mg