My apologies for completely abandoning the blog! It’s been a busy few months, in part due to my taking on a new role as social media manager for a fantastic organization called The American College of Lifestyle Medicine. We just had our conference in Nashville, which was incredibly inspiring- luminaries including Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr. Michael Greger and the Blue Zones’ Dan Buettner all spoke. In between the fantastic keynotes we were spoiled with delectable whole foods plant-based fare that was as creative as it was tasty.
The tour de force of the conference cuisine was a tamale pie, the recipe for which I’m waiting patiently. That pie has left cornmeal on my mind – so while I had planned on making Gena Hamshaw’s lentil walnut loaf for Thanksgiving, I felt the need to alter things so as to include some of that marvelous maize.
The result was this polenta- lentil loaf, or as I like to call it, Polentil loaf. (although, frankly, I do wish someone would develop a synonym for the word “loaf”. It’s so unsexy.) Turns out that Gena’s recipe and my recipe rebelliousness were a match made in heaven. This dish is rich, flavorful and complex- the aromatic lentil layer complements the cornmeal beautifully. The toothiness of the lentils and vegetables create a nice texture contrast with the fluffy polenta.
Satisfying, hearty, and a showpiece all at once- this is comfort food at it’s best! If you’re looking for a show-stopping holiday dish, this might be the one for you. It wins points for both presentation and tastiness.
Polentil Loaf – adapted from Gena Hamshaw’s recipe. Check out her amazing blog The Full Helping!
- 1 cup green lentils, dry
- 2 cups vegetable broth, plus more as needed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cups diced white or yellow onion
- 1 cup diced celery
- 1/2 cup diced carrot
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon thyme, dried
- 1 teaspoon rosemary, dried and crushed
- 6-8 sage leaves, fresh.
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 2-3 grinds fresh black pepper
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon flax meal, mixed with 2 tablespoons warm water
- 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 cup dry polenta
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- Cook the polenta: Bring water and stock mixture to a boil, slowly pour in polenta and add salt. Reduce heat and simmer gently, stirring often, for about 30 minutes. Keep a cover partly on as polenta tends to sputter. When polenta is tender and water absorbed, stir in nutritional yeast.
- Place lentils in a pot along with the vegetable broth. Bring the broth to a boil and lower it to a simmer. Simmer the lentils until they’ve absorbed all of the liquid and are tender but not falling apart. Add more broth as needed. When the lentils are done, remove them from heat and set them aside.
- Once lentils have finished boiling, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and carrot. Sautee until the onion is clear and the carrots are tender (about 6 to 8 minutes). Add the garlic and sage leaves, along with the thyme, rosemary, salt and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat, stir in nutritional yeast. Check the mixture for seasoning and add more salt and black pepper as needed.
- Add ½ cup of the cooked polenta to the lentils and stir until combined. Taste the mixture- if the lentils seem too dry, add a few more splashes of vegetable broth. We don’t want them swimming in broth, but we need to maintain some moisture for the baking step.
- Brush olive oil into a loaf pan (8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inches) Spoon half the polenta on the bottom layer in the pan. Then add the lentil mixture, smoothing over the top. Finally, spoon the remaining polenta on top of the lentils. Smooth the top of the polenta.
- Bake for 30 -40 minutes until the top of the polenta is firm. Allow to cool for 5 minutes- if the polenta is still sticking to the sides, run a sharp knife around the sides of the pan to release the loaf. The turn the pan over onto a platter. Voila, beautiful 3 layer polentil wonder.