Hi guys! How’s your week going? Did you happen to check in here last week? I added my first travel post to this blog! If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out here. I travel with my family in an RV, and we like to camp, so sometimes it’s a quick trip and sometimes it’s an epic journey. Either way, I wanted a space to share my adventures with you, and of course every post will have great vegan/GF food, travel/camping tips, and lots of photography! In this first installment, we visited a mineral springs resort in a little beach town on the Central California Coast. If you get a chance to check it out, leave a comment to say HI! 🙂 Okay, so I’ve probably (hopefully) made you really hungry with that photo above and you would probably like to know more… so let’s talk about that! This, my friends, is my Parmesan Polenta Bowl w/ Roasted Tomatoes, Greens, and Beans, and it is absolutely everything that is wonderful about food. It’s not difficult to prepare, it’s super healthy, it’s beautiful and it’s absolutely delicious!
In India, there is a philosophy of food (and medicine) called Ayurveda, and one of the basic principles of ayurvedic cooking, is that food should be prepared so that the meal includes each of the six tastes to be balanced and healthy for your body. The six tastes are Sweet, Sour, Salty, Bitter, Pungent, and Astringent. Ayurvedic cooking doesn’t only apply to Indian food, you can use the same principles to prepare any style of meal. In this case we’re talking about it in the context of an Italian style meal. The idea is that when you prepare food in that tradition, your meal will include all of the food groups (as defined by the ayurvedic tradition) and have the nutrients you need to nourish your body. Although I always try to create recipes that are as nutritious as possible, I didn’t plan this recipe based on Ayurvedic principles. I find the concept very interesting and this recipe does happen to satisfy all of those tastes though! I’ll show you how as we talk about how to prepare this bowlful of yum!
The base of this colorful bowl is polenta. Polenta is a dish from Northern Italy, that is basically a porridge, like grits, made from cornmeal. Please try to buy organic, and second best is labeled Non-GMO. You can buy it in a bag, and cook it yourself, or you can buy it in a tube like the one above, which has already been cooked and just needs heated. I usually buy the tube (in the pasta isle at most stores), because all you need to do is heat it, and it’s easy to keep on hand for a variety of quick dishes. Polenta that comes like this is great for slicing and baking or frying and can be cut into cubes. In this case we’re going to cut slices or cubes, or crumble it into chunks and add water, some vegan parmesan, and some vegan margarine. We are going to simmer it until it becomes soft and has the texture of mashed potatoes. If vegan parmesan is not your thing, you can add a vegan mozzarella, or skip the cheese all together. Either way, soft, creamy, buttery polenta is what we’re going for here. In our discussion of Ayurvedic cooking, the corn would satisfy the “Sweet” taste, as it’s a whole grain. (Yes, corn is a grain!)
Next up we have these gorgeous cherry tomatoes. We’re going to roast these tomatoes in the oven with some olive oil and kosher salt, while the polenta is simmering. In ayurvedic cooking tomatoes are classified as ‘sour’, but when these little jewels are roasted, they are sweet, sour, salty, and nothing short of delightful on top of these Parmesan Polenta Bowls!
On a day to day basis, my go-to salt is Pink Himalayan salt, because of it’s high mineral content and other health benefits. In this recipe and from time to time, I also like to use Celtic Sea Salt. This salt is also super healthy for you, as it helps to promote alkalinity in your body, improves immune function, and helps with electrolyte balance, among other things. For this recipe you need the coarsely ground variety. I coat the tomatoes with a tablespoon of olive oil and then sprinkle them with the Celtic Sea Salt.
Greens and Beans! Just when I thought my love affair with garlicky braised kale couldn’t get any more intense, I took it to the next level when I made this recipe and added my favorite beans to the mix! (Just type the word ‘kale’ into the search box on my blog and you will see several meals that I use braised kale in!) When it come to beans, I ♥ Cannelini beans the most! They are so smooth and buttery, and they are the perfect protein source for these Parmesan Polenta Bowls. In our study of the six ayurvedic tastes, kale is bitter, garlic is pungent, and beans are astringent, giving us all six tastes in this bowl. We are going to braise this kale with olive oil, garlic, water, and some pink salt, and when it’s done it will be a little wilted, but still have some crunch to it.
When the greens and beans are done, we are going to assemble our bowls. You can place the polenta and the greens side by side, as I’ve done for the photos, or you can layer the dish with polenta as the base, greens next and top it off with the roasted tomatoes, and if desired, some more parmesan before serving.
So, let me just try to describe to you the party that is about to take place in your mouth! The polenta is buttery and cheesy, savory. The greens are just slightly crunchy, juicy, and have a light garlic flavor. The beans almost melt in your mouth, and just when you think you couldn’t be any happier, these beautiful little roasted tomatoes release the most pleasing combination of sweet, sour, and salty flavors. The experience is nothing short of amazing and I can’t wait for you to try it! (Please leave me a comment when you do! ) BTW – this recipe is great with a glass of white wine! I opened a bottle of Kiara Bella white wine with this, and it was great. Kiara Bella wine is vegan.. I emailed the company to ask. I’m not a wine expert, but I really liked this one! 😉 This recipe makes 6-8 servings, so hopefully you’ll have leftovers for lunch – I’m all about the leftovers!!
The practice of Ayurveda goes so much deeper than meal preparation, there is a whole system of natural medicine built around it. I’m a firm believer in exploring food as a means to gain and maintain health, and using natural alternatives as much as possible. I love learning and sharing anything that can be of benefit to our health. If this resonates with you, I encourage you to get on my email newsletter list (just pop your email address into the form below the recipe), so you get great recipes and info in your inbox! I never sell my list, and I don’t send a lot of emails. 😉 I hope you love this recipe as much as I do! xoxo, Angel
- Parmesan Polenta
- 2 18oz. rolls of Organic Polenta or prepared equivalent
- 2 C water
- 4 T vegan parmesan cheese (optional - you can omit cheese or use vegan mozzarella if you prefer)
- 1 T vegan margarine
- Roasted Tomatoes
- 2 pints Cherry Tomatoes (about 4 cups)
- 1 tsp. coarsely ground Celtic Salt, Sea salt or Pink Himalayan salt
- 1 T Olive Oil
- Greens and Beans
- 2 Bunches of green or purple kale, clean and separate leaves from stems
- 4 t minced garlic
- 1 t pink salt (to taste)
- ½ T Olive Oil
- 2 C water
- 1 can Cannellini Beans, drained
- Preheat oven to 425*. Put cherry tomatoes on a baking sheet (with edges), and coat evenly with 1 T Olive Oil. Sprinkle with the coarse salt. Bake for 35 minutes. If you prefer more browning, turn the heat up to 450* for the last 10 minutes or so.
- While the tomatoes are baking, crumble the polenta into a medium sized sauce pan, and add water and margarine. Begin heating over a medium flame. As polenta begins to soften break up any large pieces with a fork. When polenta is softened, add the parmesan cheese and stir. Turn heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. When done, cover and set aside.
- Greens and Beans -
- In a large skillet (with lid) or a large pot, heat garlic in 1 T olive oil, for two minutes, over a medium heat. Do not brown. Add kale, salt, and water. Stir. Cover with lid and as kale begins to wilt, add beans and stir occasionally, tossing kale and beans with the garlic. Replace lid between stirring. Cook for about 10 minutes, until kale is wilted, but still has some crunch. Kale should still have vibrant color.
- Assemble the bowls -
- Add polenta, then greens and beans, top with roasted tomatoes and a little more parmesan if desired.
- Store leftovers in fridge for up to 3 days.
** This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click through, and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission from Amazon. It helps me keep the blog running, so if you do purchase after reading my post, that’s awesome, thanks! Most importantly, I just want to inspire you, and be inspired by you. I never write about products that I don’t use, or don’t believe in. When I do find something that I’m passionate about, I like to share it with my readers.