I'd been wanting to try this polena-pie-ish recipe from Vegan World Fusion Cuisine and finally got around to it on Saturday night. Basically, it's a casserole of sorts using black rice as a crust (which is a fantastically plummish purple color--so pretty) and polenta as a filling. I wanted to spice it up a little as well, so I added some broiled asparagus and sundried tomatoes to the filling as well.
I've never made polenta before so I was a bit worried, especially when I realized that the recipe itself wasn't very explanatory in that department--it never stated how long you should cook the polenta for or whether you just mix it all together, pop it into the casserole, and then throw it in the oven. Traditionally, I've read that polenta is something that takes about 30 minutes to cook, with continuous stirring. But this recipe never clarified, so I just followed the directions as is and threw all the polenta ingredients together and then into the rice-lined casserole without cooking the polenta for 30 minutes.
I've only ever *eaten* polenta once before as well, so I was kind of at a loss as to whether it was a *decent* polenta that I'd made, but regardless, I was not impressed with the polenta-part of the recipe. It was incredibly incredibly bland, despite the addition of the asparagus. Thankfully I'd made a roasted red-pepper, sundried tomato, soy milky sauce for the top, so this added a bit of depth and flavor (along with some toasted pine nuts), otherwise I suspect it would've been a major flop. If anyone has tips or suggestions about polenta or what might spice this recipe up, feel free to leave them here. For leftovers last night, I just topped it with a spicy hot sauce and it was a bit more flavorful, so I suspect it's all about the "sauce" or "topping" in this one though--and I'd recommend (if I ever experiment with this again) making or buying some sort of mango-ish salsa or a black bean salsa of some sort and scooping that on top. It might add enough kick and flavor to make this a successful dish.
On the side, I made this Hot Black Beans and Sweet Plums recipe that I'd also had my eye on for awhile as well.
This was much more successful--my feller kept talking about how he'd had his doubts (black beans and plums?!?, he kept saying) but we both cowed this down like it was the last food on earth (until I bit into a piece of clove and had to stop due to major gross-out factor). This is a very flavorful recipe, and the plums add a surprising sweetness to the mix. I might add a little bit more black beans the next time I make it, but my feller said it was the perfect amount as is.
RECIPE: Here (under "Sides"--no direct link)
VERDICT: B+/A- (damn clove!)