Sunday, November 1, 2009

Polenta with White Beans, Braised Kale, and Roasted Pears

If you follow this blog at all you know that I usually don't mess around with fussy presentations or preparations. But, you also know that I like to watch Top Chef. The last episode featured Natalie Portman, a vegetarian, but I found the dishes presented to be pretty disappointing so I thought I would take a try at something more fancy. The dish started with wondering about how roasted pears would taste . . . .

INGREDIENTS
Makes 10
Roasted Pears
- 6 Bartlett pears, cored, diced
- 1 tsp oil
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Polenta

- 2 cups water
- 1 cup plain soy milk
- 1 cup polenta
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp parsley
- salt and pepper to taste

White Beans
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 leek, white and light green section, thinly sliced
- white wine
- 1 tomato, small dice
- 1 19oz can white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- salt and pepper to taste

Braised Kale
- 6 large kale leaves
- white wine
- dash of salt

METHOD
1. Pears: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss diced pears in oil and vinegar and spread out on a baling sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast for 30 mins, turning pears regularly. Keep warm.
2. Polenta: Grease 10 large muffin tins. Bring water and milk to boiling. Slowly whisk in polenta and reduce heat to med-lo, stirring frequently to keep from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Cook for 15-20 mins, until soft and thick. Add spices and season to taste, then transfer into the muffin tins. Let cool, remove from tins, then keep warm.
3. Beans: While polenta is cooking, make the beans. Heat oil over medium heat in a frying pan. Fry leeks for 2-3 mins, until staring to go golden, then add a big splash of wine. Let cook dry, then repeat until leeks are softened (about 5 mins). Add tomatoes and another splash of wine and let reduce a bit. Add beans and a last splash of wine, then let cook for 5-7 mins until tomatoes have turned into a thick sauce. Season and keep warm.
4. Kale: Remove tough stalks from kale leaves, stack leaves, then roll up. Thinly slices rolled leaves. Heat a frying pan over med hi heat. Add kale, a generous splash of wine, and a dash of salt. Let cook for a min or two, until kale is soft but still bright green.
5. Place polenta on a plate, then top with beans, then kale, then pears.

29 comments:

Janet said...

yum!!!! except I think you forgot to add the beans to the ingredient list on the, um, white beans. :) BEAUTIFUL pic!

sageg said...

Oh yum! I might make these tomorrow, although I think I'll carmenalize the pears instead (can't touch balsamic).

Tiffany C. said...

That sounds like a tasty flavor and texture combination. Lovely presentation, too.

Kate said...

This looks like fun and I just cooked a big pot of white beans. What amount did you use?

Johanna said...

That stack looks very impressive - I usually don't like polenta stacks because they don't take my fancy but I would love to be served this and will put it on my to do list

Joanne said...

Top Chef does need to up the vegetarian ante. I remember on the third episode when the only vegetarian dish they included was a lame pasta salad. Tsk tsk!

This looks fabulous! Definitely haute cooking worthy.

Lisa -- Cravin' Veggies said...

When I saw the picture, the first thing that came to my mind was Top Chef. I love all the components of this, so I shall have to give it a try!

Jessie (Vegan-minded) said...

Looks delicious!

Lisa G/K said...

That looks absolutely heavenly! Wow!

Marcia said...

Oh man that looks so good. I'll have to try that tip on the polenta (muffin tin). I too was disappointed with the offerings on this episode (the Masters did much better). I would have gone hungry! I thought about that episode last night as I made up a yummy acorn squash risotto.

I have a couple of very good friends who are vegetarian, and it's always a big joke. Whenever we are at a wedding (happened at least twice, maybe more), everyone ends up with a huge pile of meat, and they get a plate with 5 ravioli or 6 slices of grilled zucchini.

dreaminitvegan said...

This looks wonderful! They really need to have some vegan chefs cook meals on the food network.

Bianca said...

Fancy! I'm the same way with fussy presentations. But sometimes it can be fun...this sounds delicious.

Kim said...

That looks too good to eat!!!

Jain said...

It's a beautiful thing!

Lindsay said...

That looks absolutely decadent! It could definitely rival any Top Chef entry!

nicolaknits said...

Can I come to your house for dinner? :o)

Holly said...

Hi there,

When did you see this episode? I tape Top Chef every Monday night and she wasn't on last week's or this week's episode. On the episode I taped last night, it was Restaurant Wars...

Laurie said...

This looks great! I am actually going to try the cold smoking method with the kale that Kevin used in the show. But I may make this dish tonight because it looks fantastic!

Love your blog!
Laurie

Linda B said...

I love watching Top Chef and other cooking shows and competitions. I'm with you, the food they cooked for Natalie was uninspired and uninteresting. You'd think they would have alternative proteins in Tom's kitchen since the challenge was vegetarian. I'm surprised no one tried to make something with Indian or Asian flavors. Most vegan home cooks could have done a better job.

Just.Kate said...

This is a beautiful dish. X)

The Voracious Vegan said...

Wow, this is stunning! Not only is it visually beautiful, but from the sound of it I imagine it would be delicious, as well. Next up, Top Chef for YOU!

Vegan Dad said...

Holly,
It's the episode after Restaurant Wars.

Heidi said...

looks very yummy happy to find you vegan dad =o)

Niki said...

Sigh.

Vegan Dad, you never cease to amaze.

Anonymous said...

So how does it taste?

stellatex said...

So pretty!

Captain Karen said...

I love Top Chef and was so happy to see a vegetarian challenge and Nathalie Portman. I'm not a vegetarian but do love vegetables and don't eat meat very often. I found the episode a bit disappointing - the dishes created by the contestants really didn't strike me as appetizing, interesting or fulfilling. Your recipe however? Mmmmm, this sounds fantastic. It looks amazing. And I could imagine it on the menu of a fancy restaurant. I'll definately be giving it a try (although possibly with a different green - not a kale fan).

Christy said...

Hello. I am thinking of going veggie after the first of the year. Meat has always been a staple in my diet so this will be a huge change for me. I love your blog! The recipes are amazing. I also LOVE Top Chef! I was impressed with many of the dishes they created on the episode with Natalie. It is interesting to hear from a veggie's opinion that the recipes were not impressive. I am intimidated by all the information out there about giving up meat. Eventaully I think it would be awesome to be a vegan but I want to start slow so that I am not overwhelmed and give up. Thank you for blogging! I will totally be tuning in :-)

Nichole said...

Just tried this the other night. Very good! I didn't bother making it as lovely as yours and made a couple changes: http://veganniche.blogspot.com/2010/02/polenta-with-white-beans-braised-kale.html

Thanks so much for the great recipe!