The following is a recentish conversation with Kid 1. The exact origins of how it began are murky. He may have been talking about living in our house once the Yak and myself had shuffled off this mortal coil.
Me: That can wait until you bury me in the cold hard ground.
Kid 1: Would you rather be buried or incinerated?
Me: Eek! Incinerated!? I hope you mean cremated?
Kid 1: Yes, yes! Actually, I think I will mount your head on the wall, hang on, maybe I will put you in a glass coffin like Snow White!
Me: Ummm…cremation will suffice thanks kiddo.
There is absolutely no way of linking this discussion to our recent ‘early Easter mums birthday family get together.’ Except that if you were to eat like this every day, you probably would shuffle off to an early grave. These events are no mean affairs, everyone contributes joyfully and the table groans from the weight of a feast fit for a King. That day we began with varying cheeses and crackers served with a nutty, rich fruit paste. Next was roast lamb, cauliflower cheese, potato bake, polenta pie and a green salad. To finish, a fruit platter the size of a small baby, lemon meringue cheesecake (to die for) and a decadent chocolate cake (both gluten free).
This vegetarian polenta pie is a great ‘big group gathering dish’, as it makes a motza. It’s an adaptation of a recipe from Two Peas and a Pod, a delightful food blog with tonnes of varied recipes. It’s a bit like a lasagna, without the pasta and white sauce. Polenta is cornmeal that is boiled into a hearty porridge (sounds scrumptious?) then eaten directly or baked, fried or grilled. It is gluten free so it’s a great ingredient for Silly Yaks.
(Ps whenever I do ‘pass onto the next realm’, can someone (anyone) please ensure I don’t end up hung ‘moose like’ on the wall or spend eternity on display in a glass box?)
Baked vegetarian polenta pie
4 tbl olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 medium red pepper, diced
1 large eggplant, peeled and diced into 3cm dice
2 medium zuchinni, diced 2 cm dice
200g mushrooms, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes (leave out if you choose to)
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp fennel seeds
2 tins (400g) crushed/diced tomatoes
1 cup water
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves roughly chopped
1 cup grated Parmesan
2 cups shredded/grated mozarella
HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat oven to 180C and lightly oil a 3 litre baking dish.
Sauté onion and red pepper in olive oil for a few minutes.
Add eggplant, cook stirring for 2 minutes, add the zuchinni, cook 3 minutes.
Add the mushrooms, chilli, fennel, garlic and oregano. Stir for a minute or two.
Add tomato, water and season with salt and pepper.
Cook for 30-40 minutes until vegetables are tender and sauce is reduced and silky. Remove from heat and stir in the basil.
1.5 cups instant polenta
4.5 cups milk
1.5 tbl butter
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
Place the milk, butter, sugar, salt and a few grinds of black pepper into a large saucepan and bring to a light simmer.
Using a whisk, slowly add the polenta to the pot, whisking constantly. When the polenta starts to thicken swap the whisk for a spoon.
Once the polenta pulls away from the pot, add half of the Parmesan cheese and stir to combine. Remove from the heat.
Assembling the pie
Spread the polenta into the baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese.
Pour the tomato vegetable sauce over the polenta and top with the mozarella.
Bake in a moderate oven for 30 to 35 minutes until golden brown and bubbly.
Rest for ten minutes before cutting into squares and serving.
It goes beautifully with a crisp, green salad and leftovers of this dish are fantastic the next day.
Adapted from Two Peas in a Pod. Go here for the original recipe: