Monday, December 09, 2013

Polenta rancheros

December 1, 2013

I figured a home-cooked brunch was the best way to welcome Cindy back from eating her way through all the vegan goodies in Auckland. We went through a mini obsession with Vegan Brunch a while back, but it remains chock full of recipes to sample and this beany polenta combo struck me as a good one to attempt.

None of it is very difficult, but there are a couple of different pots to balance and my timing was thrown out even further by forgetting to defrost the stock the night before. I also cut down on accompaniments - Isa suggests cashew sour cream as well as guacamole, which was too much effort for me on a Sunday morning. I subbed it with a couple of rashers of mock-bacon. It's basically the same thing, right?

The beans were lovely - spicy and sweet, while the polenta soaked up the sauces deliciously (although I think it was supposed to be a bit softer than how it turned out). The recipe makes enough for about four meals, although you'll still wind up with leftover polenta. This probably won't wind up joining the vegan omelettes or hash browns in our breakfast hall of fame, but it's a simple, hearty brunch to enjoy on a lazy Sunday morning.

Polenta rancheros
(based on a recipe from Isa Chandra's Vegan Brunch)

2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons oil
1 brown onion, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped finely
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 400g jar tomato sauce (we used a jar, but you could make your own)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon maple syrup
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed

5 cups veggie stock
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup polenta
2 tablespoons olive oil

Toast the spices in a dry pan until they get fragrant but before they start burning. Add in the oil, onion, jalapeno and garlic and cook over medium heat, stirring often, for about 10 minutes.

Add the tomato sauce, salt, syrup and cook for another few minutes.

Blend the sauce mix up until it's smooth - you can transfer it to a food processor or use a stick blender, but you need to make sure the spices get ground up, so be thorough.

Pop the blended sauce back in the pan, throw in the beans and cook it all together for five minutes or so.

Meanwhile, bring the stock and salt for the polenta to the boil in a large saucepan. Pour in the polenta in a steady stream and whisk it in. Add the oil and then simmer - the recipe suggests that you cook for 12 minutes and then leave it to stand for 10, but I think our polenta would have been better if I'd cut both of those times roughly in half. Use your judgement!

Serve the beans and polenta up, with a garnish of avocado and bacon (or cherry tomatoes or sour cream or whatever you like really).


  1. Michael if you are not averse to using a microwave, it is just the easiest way to cook polenta. Nuke for a few minutes, stir, add more water/stock if needed, nuke again. Repeat until perfect. No stirring a pot for 20 minutes needed.

    1. Great tip, Rosalie! Unfortunately for us we don't have a microwave, so we're stuck stirring for now. ;-)

  2. this looks like a delicious breakfast to me - I am with rosalie on doing it in the microwave - and I think your idea of including tofu bacon sounds just right

    1. Thanks Johanna! Perhaps we need to rethink our lack of microwave. ;-)