Pumpkin Polenta with Tomatilla-Avocado Salsa

I put tilapia with this, as well. Grilled or fried or whatever. Tilapia is my go-to protein when I don’t want something to interfere too much with another flavor. I think a rotisserie chicken (or grilled or roasted chicken) would work well, also. Mostly I’m just enamored of putting pumpkin (which I adore) into polenta (which I also adore, especially with a small pat of Earth Balance butter on top). Major kudos to Karina, a Gluten Free Goddess, from whom this recipe springs.

3 cups fresh water
Pinch of sea salt
1 cup Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Polenta
1 14-oz. can organic pumpkin puree
2/3 cup coconut milk
2-3 tablespoons vegan butter

1 tablespoon raw organic agave nectar or pure maple syrup
Pinch of nutmeg

Heat the water in a deep saucepan until boiling and add a pinch of sea salt, to taste. Pour the polenta into the simmering water, stirring with a whisk as you pour. Continue to whisk for a minute or two as the polenta cooks and adjust the heat to medium-low heat, so that the mixture gently simmers but does not cook too quickly- you don’t want to scorch it. Keep an eye on it and stir frequently to keep it from sticking. When the polenta has absorbed most of the water, add in the pumpkin puree and whisk to combine. Add in the coconut milk, vegan butter, agave and a pinch of nutmeg, and stir again. The polenta should be ready in roughly 20 to 30 minutes. It should be tender to the bite, not gritty. If it isn’t soft enough for you, add more coconut milk and cook it a little longer.

Serve in soft mounds with a topping of salsa fresca (recipe follows) or more vegan butter and maple syrup.

Sprinkle with roasted shelled pumpkin seeds.

Makes four main dish servings, or six side dish servings.

Tomatilla-Avocado Salsa

Salsa fresca is so easy. Chop up your favorite fresh salsa ingredients as the polenta is cooking. Cover and chill. Let the flavors mingle and get happy. If you’re using avocado (so good with pumpkin!) add it in just before serving, to keep it from turning dark.

3 tomatillos
1/2 orange or yellow bell pepper
1 Anaheim chile pepper
1 fresh lime
A dash of extra virgin olive oil
A drizzle of raw organic agave nectar
Sea salt, to taste
A handful of fresh chopped cilantro
1 small avocado

Remove the papery skins from the tomatillos and wash the stickiness off with produce soap and water. Roughly chop. Toss into a bowl.

Wash and halve the bell pepper; seed and chop one half. Add to the bowl.

Stem and clean the chile pepper; dice. Add it in.

Drizzle the mix with fresh squeezed lime juice, olive oil and agave nectar. Season with sea salt, to taste. Add in fresh chopped cilantro and stir to combine.

Cover and chill till serving.

Just before serving, peel and pit the avocado, dice it and add the avocado to the salsa.

Makes four servings.

Karina’s Notes:

If you enjoy cheese, this polenta would be delicious served with grated vegan cheese or fresh crumbled goat cheese.

Add protein to the plate with cooked black beans. Or add black beans to the salsa recipe below.

To make polenta ahead of time: cook till done and spread the warm polenta into a cake pan and cool. Cover and chill. Slice cooled polenta into wedges. Broil wedges brushed with olive oil till sizzling. Top with salsa or grated vegan cheese.

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