Polenta vegetable cake
Updated: Jan 8
If you don't think the words "vegetable" and "cake" go together, then we have a surprise for you today! Not one to settle for just that level of controversy, we also are throwing the word "polenta" in as well. Perhaps a different combination, but in the end delicious! So, if by some strange coincidence you know a person who doesn't like sweet cakes (incredibly unlikely), you can make them a polenta birthday cake instead of a chocolate one!
The main ingredient in our cake is polenta. For the word polenta, we mostly imagine yellow corn polenta, but polenta can also be made from other flours, such as buckwheat or rice flour. Corn polenta is a traditional dish of northern Italy, Switzerland, Slovenia, and Croatia. Maize came to Europe only after Columbus's contact with the Americas; before this, polenta was prepared mainly from rice flour.
The ways in which polenta is cooked are vastly varied, being enjoyed as a freshly cooked semi-liquid side dish, cooked to a denser form and left to sit and harden, or even baked at the end. The possibilities are endless!
For our perfect lunch, in addition to the main course, we also prepared vegetable cream soup and a salad with radicchio and beans.
We first started by preparing the vegetables. We had many options of vegetables to include in the cake, but in the end settled on carrots, red peppers, and green beans. Alternatively, you could use broccoli, cauliflower, maybe beans and chickpeas, as well as mushrooms, or any of your favourite vegetables. We cut the carrots and red peppers into thin, long strips. The beans we used were frozen and sliced, so we didn't have to do anything with them.
In a pan that had a few inches of boiling water at the bottom, we half boiled all the vegetables. We started with the carrot, which is the hardest, then added the beans, which still needed to thaw, and finally added the bell pepper for a few minutes.
While preparing the vegetables, we cooked the polenta in salted water in a separate pot. We mixed the polenta with the half-cooked and drained vegetables and poured it all into a cake pan. To make the polenta fill the gaps as much as possible, the mixture was pressed down into the pan. We baked everything at 200 degrees for a good 30 minutes. In the meantime, we prepared the soup. In order to simplify our work in the kitchen as much as possible, we used the polenta pot for the soup without having previously washed it. The joys of vegan cooking mean no worries about cross contamination from meat! So in the same pot we cooked potatoes, onions, and carrots, and after 20 minutes everything was blended with our stick mixer. For the salad we used radicchio and canned beans that we then seasoned with pumpkin oil and salt.
The price for our 4 person lunch was € 3.64, which means that the lunch cost us less than one euro per person. When buying, we found it interesting that the price of frozen beans, which were already cleaned and sliced, was lower than the price of fresh beans. Weird! Also, don't forget that with an increase in the variety of vegetables we use, the price of our lunch also increases.
With our interesting lunch, we covered 25% of the daily calorie requirements for an average adult. In doing so, we consumed enough protein, fibre, iron, magnesium, potassium, and many other vitamins. We were a bit lacking, however, in calcium, which in other meals can be obtained with broccoli, arugula, kale, or beans. We also consumed too little selenium, which during this transitional season is even more important for our immune system. Therefore, in other meals we suggest red cabbage, artichokes, sesame, chia seeds, and various mushrooms, as well as oat flakes. Again, we did not consume any vitamin D and vitamin B12, as they are lacking in a vegan diet.
If you have any questions about today's meal, its nutritional value, or you want to suggest ideas for future lunches, then send us an email at email@example.com and we will get back to you about it with pleasure!
Wishing you a happy week (with a yummy polenta vegetable cake to celebrate)!
-The Hungry Pumpkin Team