Raw Polenta with Marinated Cherry Tomatoes
November 19, 2009

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Greetings, all. Thank you for such thoughtful responses to my Thanksgiving jitters post; I hope that my tips on vegan dining will come in handy!

I know that I’ve been promising Thanksgiving recipes for a week now, and they’re coming! First, I’m sharing a recipe that isn’t for Thanksgiving, per se, but can be enjoyed as a quick and easy entree throughout the holiday season.

During my early years as a vegan, I struggled to find holiday recipes that would please both me and my Mom, with whom I share all of my holiday celebrations. It was particularly important to me to find a good menu for Christmas Eve, which has always been our favorite holiday moment, and the occasion that we keep all to ourselves (Thanksgiving we share with friends and significant others; Christmas morning is interrupted when I travel to my father’s home in Westchester).  In spite of the fact that my Mom is a devoted omnivore and I’m a devoted vegan, it was and still is important to me that we share at least a portion of our Christmas Eve meal, rather than preparing separate options. One year, we shared a giant sweet potato soup; on another, I introduced my mother to nut cheese ravioli (she said she would have preferred something warm, but loved the taste).

One dish that we’ve returned to time and again on holidays is polenta. It’s quick to prepare, easy to make vegan, and familiar to us both. As the years go by, I’ve brainstormed about ways to make a polenta dish that’s both vegan and raw—I’ll certainly love it all the more, and if she can overcome her qualms about its temperature, Mom may just be surprised, too.

This week, I decided to attempt a raw version of my favorite polenta preparation–polenta with oven roasted tomatoes—and I fell in love with the results. Mild, sweet, and easy to adapt, this dish is shockingly reminiscent of classic polenta. And, like the cooked dish that inspired it, it takes no more than minutes to prepare. In fact, it’s one of the easiest raw entrees I’ve ever created. The polenta is nothing more than corn and pine nuts whipped together in the food processor, and the topping is a quick little salad of cherry tomatoes and kale.

The recipe is as follows:

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Raw Polenta with Marinated Cherry Tomatoes (yields 2 very large or 4 small servings)

For the Polenta:

2 ½ cups raw corn
1 cup pine nuts, soaked at least a few hours
½ tsp salt
1 tsp agave nectar (optional)
Additional salt and pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients in a food processor until they’re creamy, but a little coarse (you’re going for the same general texture as cooked polenta – smooth but a little grainy). Add salt and pepper to taste.

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For the tomatoes:

1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes, halved
½ cup kale, finely chopped
3 tbsp finely shredded fresh basil

For the marinade:

3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
¼ tsp salt
Dash of pepper
1 tsp agave nectar

Mix all of the dressing ingredients together by hand or in a small blender. Pour over the tomatoes, kale, and basil, and let them marinate for at least an hour.

To assemble the dish, divide the polenta between four plates. Top with a portion of the cherry tomatoes, and serve alongside a big green salad!

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This recipe proves that it’s easy to create delicious, nourishing, and familiar holiday food that’s also 100% raw and vegan. Best of all, the dish requires very little effort or prep, so it’s an easy option to transport or make away from home. I hope you’ll all have a chance to savor it throughout the holiday season, at the family table, at parties, or simply on your own. Enjoy!

And it’s worth mentioning that this is my official nod to Michelle and Katy’s Vegan for a Week and Vegan-4-a-Day challenges. Of course, it’s all vegan all the time over here, but I’m glad to contribute a recipe to this very admirable challenge. Thanks, ladies, for inspiring the food blogging community!

xo

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    48 Comments
  1. Hi Gena,
    I was wondering if you have any tips on getting raw corn off of the cob? Do you just use a regular knife and go down the sides?
    Thanks.

  2. you’ve probably answered this question already, but when in a Greek restaurant, what do you usually order? I try to be a good vegetarian, but succumbed to try the tzatziki (made from goat milk). And do you consume raw herbs as well? thanx!

    • I usually go with a salad (not a greek salad, since I hate onions and don’t eat feta) and as many veggie sides that are vegan as possible. I also ask if the hummus and babaganoush (or other veggie spreads — sometimes they have fava bean) are vegan, and order some if so.

  3. This looks so delicious. I’ve always been intimidated by polenta and I don’t know why! I also love the picture of you in the purple shirt. You even look like you’re a sweet person in your pictures!

  4. if you keep posting recipes like this im going to crash your thanksgiving dinner. thats just a fact. wonderful post love!

  5. I’m not sure when Thanksgiving is exactly, but I hope you have a happy one; same to all your readers.

  6. For some reason I didn’t eat a lot of polenta growing up, strange in an Italian fam and all.. I only started eating it after having polenta fries at Candle 79! LOL! 🙂 Your raw version looks delish! Love your new pic too, gorgeous!

  7. I have NEVER made polenta for real so I think I should just go with this one first and then I won’t even know the difference 🙂 ps WAY overdid it on the soy today and was thinking “Gena wouldn’t like this!” Sometimes I just love tofu.

  8. I am wondering what you use for raw corn when corn on the cob is not in season. Do you consider flash frozen corn raw if you just let it thaw at room temp?

    Thanks.

    • I buy it not in season, alas — which is to say that I buy it at the grocery store, where it isn’t locally sourced.

  9. I wish i had pine nuts otherwise i would make this one tonight instead of Ani’s ….next time i will though! my hubz and i love raw polenta

  10. That is AWESOME! I love polenta, and this is going on my must-make list. You rock, girl!

    And thank you so much for supporting #VeganWeek…I love the blogging community.

  11. I love polenta, and that sounds amazing! I’ve got to switch up my diet this week, I’m allergic to something, and I’m going to try and pare it back to the minimum, trying to keep a lot of it raw, so I will definitely be trying this.

  12. This is a gorgeous dish, Gena! I tried making traditional polenta a while ago, but wasn’t thrilled with the results. I’ll have to give your raw version a try.

  13. Hi Gena ~
    Now this is one I am really looking forward to trying! I made a parsnipy (cooked) version of “polenta” recently to satisfy my craving, and I think this raw version will go down just as well. I imagined eating this as I read it and I am already smiling 🙂
    ~ Emily.

  14. Where do you get domestic pinenuts? Or do you not worry about the origin. The pinenuts at Whole Foods, while labelled organic and raw, are from China, and I’m even leerier about getting my food from China than I am my running shoes.

    • Elizabeth,

      I’m pretty un-discerning. The ones I used in this recipe were from my health food store, and organic. I forget the brand name.

      G

  15. I love polenta, and this is a fantastic way to incorporate it into a raw diet!!! I’m so glad you posted this.

  16. That sounds great! I don’t usually buy pine nuts because they’re more expensive. Do you think this would work with another nut or seed?

    BTW, I made raw cupcakes this week! Incorporating more raw foods is pretty fun…forces me to be more creative!