When cooking for a group of people, the search for a universally-friendly dish can be overwhelming. The host wants to keep things healthy, yet interesting. Some guests might be gluten-free. Some guests have allergies. Some guests are vegan, and even others dread the thought of “vegan food.” Believe me, I’ve heard it all. As a host, it can be a struggle. Big salads are often the easiest meals to prep, but can be boring for some people. On the same token, you don’t want to be slaving away in the kitchen all evening. What to do?!
I have a solution. These Millet-Polenta Cakes with Arugula Pesto are hearty enough for the vegan-skeptics, easy enough to prepare beforehand for the host, and flavorful enough to keep everyone happy–not to mention they’re vegan and gluten-free! Feel free to double the batch and cut the polenta into larger-sized cakes to serve as a main dish, or keep them smaller as an appetizer. No matter what, these are sure to impress your guests with their beautiful presentation and Italian-inspired flavors.
Makes 9 cakes
– 1 tbs. extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing
– 1 garlic clove, minced
– 1/2 c. millet
– 4 1/2 c. water
– 1 1/2 tbs. salt
– 1/2 fine polenta cornmeal
– 3 c. arugula
– Small handful of toasted almonds, roughly chopped
Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and cook for about a minute, until fragrant. Add the millet and saute for another minute. Being very careful, pour the water into the saucepan. Add the salt and turn the heat up to high to bring the water to a boil. Using a wire whisk, keep the water moving as you slowly pour the cornmeal in. Reduce the heat to medium-low, keeping the polenta mixture bubbling very slightly. Use the whisk to keep the mixture moving slowly until it thickens to the texture of a porridge (between 20-30 minutes). Remove from the heat.
Oil a 9×9 inch glass casserole dish and pour the hot polenta mixture in, using a rubber spatula to level the top. Put the dish in the fridge for about an hour, or until the polenta has set. Turn the cooled polenta out of the casserole dish and onto a cutting board (you should have one large square of polenta). Use a sharp knife to cut the polenta into nine 3×3 inch cakes.
To plate: Lay a polenta cake over 1/2 cup of arugula and top with the Arugula Pesto (recipe below) and leftover chopped almonds. Enjoy!
Makes about 3/4 c. of pesto
– 1/4 c. almonds
– Juice and zest of one lemon
– 2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
– 2 garlic cloves
– 3 oz. arugula (about 3 c. packed)
– 1 tsp. nutritional yeast
-1 1/2 tsp. salt
– Black pepper to taste
Toast the almonds in a 425ºF oven for 7-10 minutes, or until fragrant.
In a food processor, puree all ingredients (including almonds) until smooth. Serve over Millet-Polenta Cakes.
– Arielle (DIY Food Contributor)
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