Crispy Baked Polenta with Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

Crispy Baked Polenta with Sun Dried Tomato Pesto | ourfourforks.com

It’s weird – I love cornbread, corn muffins, corn tortillas, corn bread stuffing, but I’ve never been into polenta. It’s not that I disliked it – I just didn’t have the urge to make it, order it or eat it. But my polenta perspective shifted recently when I ordered short ribs and polenta at friend’s birthday dinner and liked the polenta as much as the beef. This week, I saw a recipe for smoked porter-braised beef short ribs with polenta in Food and Wine (via the women at Food52) and made it immediately (with gluten free beer). And it was as good as it looks.

 

As a new polenta fan, I ventured into my cookbook library to find some polenta recipes I had previously skimmed over. Moosewood Restaurant New Classics, an old favorite, inspired me to bake and “bread” the polenta after letting it set, which is what I’ve done here. Crispy baked polenta with sun dried tomato pesto it full of flavor, texture and seasonality. It’s warm and comforting, but the little pop of basil gives a nod to warmer months to come.

 

Crispy Baked Polenta with Sun Dried Tomato Pesto | ourfourforks.com

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Smashed Potato Salad with Seed Pesto & Charred Sweet Corn

Smashed Potato Salad with Seed Pesto | ourfourforks.com

Smashed potatoes. The concept it pretty straight forward: boil some small potatoes, smash them on a baking sheet and bake until crispy. Yet until recently I had never had these before. My mom and aunt introduced me to the concept; seemingly out of the blue, they both started serving them whenever I visited and I was sold.

 

When new potatoes appeared in my CSA share this week, I had no other choice but to smash them. Several weeks ago Vega generously sent me some of their roasted sacha inchi seeds – the richest plant-based source of omega-3s on earth – so I made a simple vegan seed pesto for the smashed potatoes and added some fresh oven charred corn. The result is a delicious, crunchy potato salad with all my favorite flavors of summer.

 

If you don’t have sachi inchi seeds, choose another seed or nut to use! I love using walnuts or pumpkin seeds and usually roast them first for depth of flavor.

 

Smashed Potato Salad with Seed Pesto | ourfourforks.com

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Sweet Potato Bun Sliders with Portobello, Red Peppers + Pesto “Mayo”

Sweet Potato Bun Sliders | ourfourforks.com

Last week I had leftover basil in the fridge  and, since fresh basil can’t be wasted, I threw it in my Vitamix with some almonds, olive oil and salt: vegan pesto! We ate it all week with spaghetti squash, turkey meatballs, roasted veggies and, since it’s finally starting to feel like summer, on sweet potato bun sliders with portobello mushrooms, roasted red peppers and red onion.

 

In an effort to eat more whole foods recently, the sweet potato bun has become my favorite substitute for traditional burger buns or sandwich bread. The portobello mushrooms give these sliders some substance while the roasted red pepper, red onion and pesto “mayo” give it that summer barbecue feel. The pesto “mayo,” made by mixing vegan pesto with cashew “mayo,” helps hold the sliders together and elevates the flavor of the vegetables.

 

Sweet Potato Bun Sliders | ourfourforks.com

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