Cheesy Polenta and Vegetarian Bolognese

This is a dish that I have been dreaming about since Spring break. My family and I went to Cafe Bink in Carefree, AZ and my sister got this dish (Amy’s Bolognese), but with a real meat bolognese, of course. I knew that this was something I had to try to make myself! I’ve gotta say, it turned out AMAZING.

While, I have to say, these pictures aren’t the most appetizing, you’re just gonna have to take my word for it! Plus it was a pretty quick meal (by my standards, anyway)!

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Cheesy Polenta
3/4 tube of Polenta, diced (I used the sun-dried tomato kind!)
1/2 c. Water
1/4 c. Heavy Cream
1/8 c. Grated Parmesan
1/8 c. Shredded Pepper Jack Cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

Bolognese
~7 oz. Diced Fire Roasted Tomatoes (I used 1/4 of a 28 oz. can)
1 1/2 Tomatoes, rough chop/diced
1/2 Red Onion, rough chop/diced
1 T. Garlic, minced
10-12 oz. Soyrizo (Ground Fake Meat)*
1 T. Corn Starch
1 T. Soy sauce
Olive oil
2-3 T. Fresh Basil
Salt and Pepper to taste

*Keep in mind, when you are making the bolognese, not all veggie crumbles are created equal so you will have to be mindful! Some are extremely oil-y to compensate, while others require quite a bit of added oil. Some are bursting with flavor, while others need some tender loving care. I had some “Light Life” Sausages (Chorizo style) in my freezer so I blended it up in a food processor to make crumbles, but feel free to go buy pre-crumbled fake meat!

Start by making your bolognese! In a medium sized soup pot with some olive oil on medium-high heat, cook the onions and the garlic until the onions become translucent and it starts to become fragrant. Next add the veggie crumbles. If it starts to stick to the bottom of the pot, add more oil! Drizzle on some corn starch so that the crumbles are coated and then add some soy sauce and the basil! This just gives the dish a bit more flavor! You can season it as you like – maybe try some dashes of dried oregano?

Next throw in those diced tomatoes and the canned tomatoes. Bring the sauce up to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cover it up! Occasionally check on it to stir, but it should be fine on its own!

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Now, onto the polenta! In another medium sized soup pot, bring the 1/2 c. of water to a boil. Dice up the polenta pieces and toss them in!  With a whisk, start to break up the chunks and swirl it around! Then add the cream! Keep on mashing and whisking and soon the polenta will turn super creamy. Don’t fret, this takes a little while before all the pieces break down! Once the mixture starts to bubble and boil, reduce it down to a simmer. Yum yum! Mix in the two different cheeses! I used parmesan and pepper jack, but feel free to change that as well! Some people like fontina or goat cheese or sharp cheddar! And it’s all done!

Serve side by side and feel free to eat both separately or mix ’em up! I am storing the leftovers in two separate containers that way I can eat the polenta and the bolognese together sometimes or I can throw the bolognese on some pasta later this week!

Jenny especially loved this dish at Cafe Bink because it reminded her of our childhood favorite, Chef Boyardee’s Beefaroni! It’s a great balance of cheesy and tomato-y. Don’t judge us. You know you loved Beefaroni!

This dish is perfect for a cold and rainy Spring night! It was made just in time for me to cozy up and.. write a paper.

Love,
Mimi

Ps. In just a few short hours, it is Francisco’s birthday! Happy Birthday Little Bear! I love you!

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