Creamy Polenta Bowl with Kale and Roasted Chickpeas

photo of polenta bowl with chickpeas and kale

I invited my former student Naomi Silverman, to contribute a recipe for my blog so that I could feature her work and let people know how awesome she is! She gave me this lovely recipe for a Creamy Polenta Bowl with Kale and Roasted Chickpeas. It is simple enough as is to make for a weekday lunch or dinner, but can be jazzed up for a dinner party with just a few additions–such as colorful quick ume pickles, a delicious tahini dressing, or some steamed, tri-colored carrots! Feel free to vary the beans, vegetables, or grains if you don’t have the same ingredients on hand, but keep in mind that the cooking technique for polenta is very different from other grains such as brown rice or quinoa (which steam rather than simmer). This recipe is vegan and gluten-free.

Creamy Polenta Bowl with Kale and Roasted Chickpeas
 
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Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Vegan
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
Chickpeas
  • 15-oz can or 2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • dash black pepper
  • dash chili powder (chipotle or other)
  • 1 teaspoon untoasted sesame oil
Polenta
  • 1 cup dry polenta (coarse ground cornmeal)
  • 2 cups spring or filtered water
  • 2 cups soy milk or almond milk, unsweetened
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • dash black pepper
Kale
  • 1 bunch curly kale, tough part of stems removed and chopped into one-inch pieces
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoons unrefined coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons ume plum vinegar
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
Optional
  • 1 avocado, diced
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In large baking dish or sheet pan, toss chickpeas with oil, salt, pepper, and chile powder. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, stirring once after 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
  2. Meanwhile, bring polenta and water to a boil, whisking frequently. As the liquid gets absorbed, stir in milk, little by little, until the polenta is smooth, creamy, and free of lumps, about 20-30 minutes.
  3. While polenta cooks, heat a large skillet, add coconut oil and diced onions, and sauté until translucent, about 5-10 minutes. Add the kale and sprinkle on ume plum vinegar. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Sauté for a few minutes until the kale is tender but still bright green.
  4. To serve, arrange all items in a bowl as desired and top with with diced avocado.

Naomi interned with me this year after completing her classroom hours at The Natural Epicurean. In the 10 years I taught there, I had dozens of amazing and talented culinary students intern with me. They assisted me in different aspects of my work, such as being a teaching assistant for my macrobiotic course or Ayurvedic cooking classes, assisting me with personal chef and catering work, testing recipes, or helping me create photos and videos for promotional materials. Naomi and I worked together for a few months this spring and came up with some beautiful materials for my web site and cooking class promotional materials. I am so grateful for her help, which came at a great time, when the cooking school had just closed and I was building my business and independent cooking classes. I miss working with Naomi now that her internship hours have ended, but hope we will get a chance to cook together again soon! Below is a video of us hard at work (and very well fed)!

Naomi has started her own personal chef business in Austin, Texas specializing in healthy, beautiful, plant-based (vegan) meals made with organic, locally grown produce. You can read all about her background, which includes an interdisciplinary bachelor’s degree in Agriculture and Food Justice and a certificate in plant-based chef training from The Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts. Let her know if you need her help with your next dinner party or weeknight meals!

photo of Chef Naomi SilvermanI’ll be teaching a class on Nourishing Buddha Bowls and Dressings on Jan 6th in Austin, TX. For class listings and to sign up for classes, please visit https://cookloveheal.com/book-a-class.

Make Your Own Sushi Dinner Party!

One of my favorite meals to make with friends and family is make your own sushi. Everyone enjoys choosing their own fillings, being creative, and making their own custom rolls! Kids especially appreciate being able to build their own sushi roll because they know exactly what it is in it. So make your next gathering into a make your own sushi dinner party!

Step 1. Make your sushi rice.

I prefer white sushi rice, as it is lighter and goes with all fillings, although once in a while I make pressure-cooked brown rice for more hearty vegetarian rolls. Here is my fool-proof recipe for making sushi rice without sugar! Make sure the rice is not still hot when making a roll, so it doesn’t “melt” the nori sheet or making the fillings warm.

Step 2. Prepare your fillings.

I like to fold a nori sheet in half (with stripes going vertically) and cut filling ingredients to the length of the half sheet width. I usually slice ingredients fairly thinly so that I can put multiple fillings into each roll. Almost anything can go into a sushi roll, but you might try:

  • cucumber (deseeded)
  • spring mix (no need to slice)
  • carrots (raw, blanched, or sauteed)
  • sweet potato (sautéed)
  • avocado
  • edible flowers
  • red bell pepper (raw or roasted and peeled)
  • snap peas
  • fresh herbs- mint, cilantro, basil, shiso
  • mushrooms- shiitake, oyster, portobello (sautéed and seasoned)
  • tofu or tempeh (pan-fried and seasoned with shoyu or tamari)
  • pickles (red or green sauerkraut, red radish pickles, daikon pickles, etc.)
  • umeboshi paste
  • condiments- shiso powder, gomashio, ao nori flakes
  • toasted sesame seeds- tan and/or black
  • Dijon or whole grain mustard

Step 3. Prepare an awesome dipping sauce.

There are all kinds of sauces that go well with sushi, such as shoyu-ginger, wasabi mayo, and various spicy sauces. Try this simple and delicious recipe my husband created called insanely delicious miso dipping sauce or my sweet and savory almond butter dipping sauce.

Step 4. Make a 5-minute miso soup.

Use my basic vegetable miso soup recipe to make a delicious start to the meal. The soup can be warmed up at the last minute and garnished after serving in individual bowls.

Step 5. Prepare your sushi rolling station and roll your sushi!

If making hand rolls, you can all sit around a table and make one at a time from your seat. Watch my Facebook video for tips on making regular nori rolls and inside out rolls.

Each person will need:

  • A sushi mat and a little space to roll
  • A bowl of water to dip hands in and a hand towel
  • A plate to set their finished rolls

Have accessible for everyone to share:

  • A platter or two of fillings, pickles, condiments, and sauces
  • A stack of nori sheets (I usually use half sheets that I half myself) and/or soy wrappers
  • A cutting board and sharp knife for slicing sushi (link to Japanese veg knife)
  • Platters for displaying sliced sushi

For making a basic nori roll, lay the sheet of nori (i usually use a half sheet but you can also use a whole sheet) on a dry bamboo mat with lines on nori sheet going vertically. Wet hands in bowl of water and shake off excess. Take a handful of sushi rice (about 1/2-3/4 cup) and very gently spread out over the lower 2/3 of the nori sheet, all the way out to the edges. Do not put pressure on rice, as it can tear the nori sheet. The sushi rice will easily stick to the nori sheet without any pressing. Take several fillings and place horizontally over the rice on the lower 1/4 of the sheet (almost to the bottom). Start rolling the nori from the bottom, enclosing the fillings into the first turn. Keep rolling, using the bamboo mat for support, until you reach the part of the nori without rice. Dip your index finger into the water bowl and wet the edge of the nori to help seal the roll. Keep the roll intact until ready to serve. Slice just before serving.

Step 6. Set a beautiful table.

Place sushi platters on table and garnish with fresh herbs or edible flowers. Serve up miso soup into individual bowls and garnish with thinly sliced scallions or some fresh herbs. Have an assortment of drinks off to the side to sample such as green tea, iced green tea, warm or cold sake, or a crisp, dry white wine. Give everyone a plate, dipping sauce bowl, and chopsticks.

Enjoy your meal… Itadakimasu!  いただきます!


Quinoa Kitchadi with Vegetables, Turmeric, and Ginger

quinoa kitchadi

Kitchadi, a one-pot meal from the Ayurvedic tradition, is considered very healing and nourishing (or sattvic), and is typically made with split mung beans (moong dal), basmati rice, digestive spices, ghee or oil, and non-starchy vegetables. Here I am using quinoa, moong dal, and coconut oil, but you may experiment with different grains and beans for variety.

Kitchadi is soothing to the digestion, as it contains turmeric and ginger, it is cooked until soft in texture, and it is served warm.  It contains complex carbohydrates, good quality fats, and vegetables, which help to regulate blood sugar.

Kitchadi is a go-to breakfast meal at my home, when I am wanting something heartier than miso soup, but still want something soothing to the digestion. It seems to work as a “reset button” if I am having stomach troubles or just lacking appetite. I make enough so that I can have leftovers for lunch or breakfast the next day, adding some fresh greens and herbs when reheating.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Quinoa Kitchadi with Vegetables, Turmeric, and Ginger
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: Ayurvedic
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil
  • ½ cup moong dal (split mung beans), rinsed and soaked overnight then drained
  • ½ cup quinoa (tan or mixture of red and tan), rinsed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
  • ½ teaspoon organic turmeric powder
  • 2 cups sliced vegetables (such as zucchini, carrot, celery, butternut squash)
  • 3-4 cups filtered or spring water, divided
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt, or more to taste
  • a few grinds of black pepper
  • fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish
  • lemon, cut in wedges, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Heat medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan or pot on medium heat and add coconut oil. Add soaked moong dal and stir to coat well with the oil. Add quinoa and mix into dal. Toast on medium heat for a minute or two, then add ginger and turmeric and saute for a minute more.
  2. Add 2 cups water, stirring to make sure quinoa and dal are not sticking to the bottom of the pot. Bring to a boil, then turn to low, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes.
  3. Add vegetables, sea salt, and additional water (1-2 cups) to achieve desired consistency (it can either be soft or a bit soupy). Simmer another 10 minutes, or until quinoa and dal are very soft.
  4. Add a few grinds of black pepper. Taste for seasonings. If it seems too dry, add more coconut oil.
  5. Serve in a bowl garnished with fresh cilantro and lemon.

 

Creamy Polenta with Sweet Corn

This is the first recipe in a series of Healthy Comfort Foods for the Holidays! Corn polenta is full of complex carbohydrates, which will help stave off sugar cravings during the holiday season.

This is a soft-cooked polenta recipe that calls for more liquid than the typical polenta recipe. The result is a very soft, sweet, and creamy dish (with no milk or cream added!) that is easy to digest and popular with children and adults. I use 5 cups water to 1 cup polenta. Many recipes only use 2-3 cups water, leaving the polenta undercooked and gritty.

I recommend using a flame tamer or heat diffuser to prevent burning. If you don’t have one, just be sure to use a heavy-bottomed pot (like an enamel-coated cast iron pot) on a very low flame.

serving-polenta

At home we often eat polenta for breakfast with a sprinkle of iron-rich shiso powder and a side of greens or miso soup. But we also have it for lunch and dinner, perhaps topped with pesto, or eaten with a side of beans and avocado. It is an easy, nutritious item for child’s lunchbox that you can keep warm in a thermos, and leftovers are great heated up the next day.

polenta
Polenta with sweet corn and broccoli sprinkled with shiso powder

To warm up leftover polenta, heat up enough water to cover a small saucepan until simmering. Add the amount you’d like to heat up, turn to low, cover, and steam for 2 or 3 minutes. Turn heat off and let sit until ready to eat. Stir to mix any remaining water in the bottom of the pan. For a greener variation, add some chopped broccoli or kale greens to the simmering water before adding the polenta.

polenta-broccoli
Isabel making polenta with chopped broccoli

corn polenta

I recently made this dish for a friend who is undergoing cancer treatment and needs foods that are nourishing and easy to digest. She loved it!

Creamy Polenta with Sweet Corn
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Grain
Cuisine: Macrobiotic
Serves: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 cup dry corn polenta
  • 5 cups spring or filtered water, divided
  • ½ teaspoon unrefined sea salt, or more to taste
  • kernels from 1 ear sweet corn or 1 cup frozen sweet corn kernels
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or grass-fed butter (optional)
  • a few pinches shiso powder
Instructions
  1. In a heavy-bottomed pot, whisk together polenta, 3 cups water, and sea salt.
  2. Turn heat to medium. Stir constantly while polenta comes to a boil to prevent sticking or clumping.
  3. Gradually add the remaining 2 cups of water and sweet corn, stirring constantly. Turn heat down to prevent polenta from splattering.
  4. Lower heat, cover, and simmer with a flame tamer beneath pot for 20-30 minutes, or until polenta is thick, soft, and creamy.
  5. Stir in olive oil or butter, if desired. Season with additional sea salt if needed.
  6. Serve with a sprinkle of shiso powder.
Variations
  1. Add finely chopped broccoli to the polenta during the last 5 minutes of cooking.
  2. Serve with sautéed zucchini, mushrooms, or kale.
  3. Make in a pressure cooker by adding polenta, 5 cups water, sea salt, and corn all at once. Put pressure cooker lid on and bring up to pressure on medium heat. Turn to low and cook for 5 minutes more. Turn off heat and let come down from pressure naturally. Remove lid and stir in olive oil or butter, if desired.

 

Delicious Macrobiotic Brown Rice

Brown rice is flavorful and delicious when made in the macrobiotic style. First the rice is washed and scoured, then soaked for a minimum of 6 hours. Then the rice is cooked in fresh water over low heat with sea salt or kombu until rice is simmering. Next, the rice is boiled at medium-high heat, turned to low, and cooked with a heat diffuser or flame tamer for 50 minutes more. Lastly, keep the lid on the pot for 15 minutes after the heat is turned off. The rice will continue to steam. This sounds like a long time to cook rice, but this method ensures that the rice is fully cooked and chewy rather than crunchy and unevenly cooked! See video below for more instruction.

Delicious Macrobiotic Brown Rice
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Grain
Serves: 6 cups
Ingredients
  • 2 cups organic short or medium grain brown rice
  • spring or filtered water
  • pinch unrefined sea salt or 1 inch square piece kombu
Instructions
  1. Measure rice into glass bowl and wash with filtered water three times. Scour the rice with your hands to remove dust and debris with each wash. After third wash, drain completely and pour in 3 cups fresh water. Soak for 6-8 hours or overnight, covered with a plate or towel.
  2. Drain soaking water into a measuring cup and note amount of water. Discard soaking water and measure the same amount of fresh water.
  3. Transfer rice to heavy-bottomed pot with heavy lid. Add measured fresh water and pinch of sea salt or kombu. Put lid on pot, turn flame to low and let cook gently 15 minutes.
  4. Turn heat to medium-high until rice is boiling, then turn back to low, place flame tamer (heat diffuser) underneath pot, and simmer for another 50 minutes without removing the lid.
  5. Turn off heat and let rice sit covered for about 10-15 minutes before opening pot.
Variation
  1. Add ½ cup toasted, chopped pecans sprinkled with shoyu or tamari to cooked rice.

 

White Sushi Rice

Making sushi rice is an art. I am still learning how to perfect it. This recipe works really well for making nori rolls, sushi, and rice balls. It lacks the sugar and preservatives that fast-food sushi contains, but is perfectly sticky (not mushy) and flavorful. Good luck making your first sushi rice! Soon I will post a recipe for a simple nori roll.

White Sushi Rice
 
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The first step to making delicious nori rolls is making a perfectly seasoned and pefectly sticky sushi rice!
Author:
Cuisine: Japanese
Serves: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 cups organic white sushi rice
  • spring or filtered water for rinsing rice
  • 2¼ cups spring or filtered water
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoons umeboshi (ume plum) vinegar
  • 1 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
Instructions
  1. Start by rinsing the rice to remove some of the starch. Place rice in small to medium saucepan with a lid. Add enough water to cover rice by about an inch. Swirl water around until water becomes cloudy. Drain out water using fine meshed strainer.
  2. Add 2¼ cups spring or filtered water and sea salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat. When bubbles first appear, stir the rice with a wooden spoon and place lid on pot.
  3. When at a full boil, turn heat to low and let simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
  4. Turn off heat and keep pot covered for 20 minutes. This gives the rice a chance to steam and absorb all of the cooking liquid.
  5. Transfer rice into a large bowl. Mix together umeboshi vinegar and brown rice vinegar in a small bowl. Pour the vinegar mixture evenly over the rice, cutting it into the rice with a rice paddle or wide wooden spoon, fanning as you go with a plastic lid or fan. Rice will cool quickly when using this method. Do not stir the rice, as it will become mushy.
  6. Set aside and cover with a damp towel until ready to use.