Tag vegetarian

Parties That Cook Vegetarian Recipe: Polenta Toasts with Red Bell Pepper Pesto and Goat Cheese

Have you ever wanted to be one of the “cool kids”? It’s OK to admit, we can’t all have been Cheerios at McKinley. There’s still time to make the transition, even for those no longer in school. The IT thing to try right now: Vegetarian Food. Parties That Cook is here to help with this recipe for delicious Polenta Toasts with Red Bell Pepper Pesto and Goat Cheese that will give you a whole new view of vegetarian food!

Polenta Toasts with Red Bell Pepper Pesto and Goat Cheese
This recipe can also be found in our Appetizer Recipe Library!



Canola oil for oiling sheet pan and frying
7 cups milk
2 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups polenta (coarse cornmeal)

Red Bell Pepper Pesto:
2 red bell peppers
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, seeds removed and chopped
1/4 cup smoked almonds
2 large cloves garlic
3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon lemon juice plus 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
2 Tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon kosher salt

7 ounces goat cheese
1 Tablespoon milk or cream
Thyme sprigs for garnish

Polenta: Lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet. Combine milk, salt and butter in a large heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil. Gradually add the polenta, whisking until smooth. Reduce heat to low. Cook the polenta until it is creamy and thick, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Pour out onto oiled sheet, spread evenly so that it is very smooth and flat. Let cool to room temperature.

Red Bell Pepper Pesto: Roast the pepper over a stovetop flame until blackened (or broil in the oven until blackened). Transfer to a paper bag for 5 minutes to steam then peel off the charred skin and remove seeds and stem. In a food processor, blend the peppers, chipotle, almonds, garlic, oil, lemon juice and zest, Parmesan and salt until very smooth.

Grilled Polenta: Using a wet, 2 inch round cookie cutter, cut out polenta circles. Heat canola oil in a large non-stick grill pan or griddle. Cook polenta on one side until golden then flip and cook on the other side. Transfer finished circles to a serving platter.

To Serve: Mix the goat cheese, milk and thyme with a fork. Spoon goat cheese into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip. Put a dollop of the pesto onto each polenta circle. Pipe a rosette of goat cheese in the center. Garnish with thyme sprig and serve.

Makes 24 Polenta Toasts

Want to try something new, eat delicious food, and learn a few new cooking techniques in the process? Then be sure to check out our first ever Vegetarian Tapas Cooking Class on March 1, 2011! Vegetarian International Tapas (similar to the one above) are on the evening’s menu, though you don’t actually have to be a vegetarian to attend. After this class, you may just be inspired to try Source, a Vegetarian and Vegan restaurant with a much-anticipated opening in San Francisco on March 2.

Top Chef Goes Vegetarian

It’s down to the final seven of Top Chef Las Vegas!

This week’s quick-fire judge is James Beard award winning chef, Paul Bartolotta. Padma introduces the TV Guide quick-fire challenge: reinvent a classic TV dinner inspired by a classic television show. The chefs draw knives to reveal the iconic television shows:  

Jennifer- The Flinstones
Mike I.- Seinfeld
Kevin- The Sopranos
Eli- Gilligan’s Island
Michael- Cheers
Robin- Sesame Street
Bryan- Mash

After 60 minutes, the cheftesetants serve Padma and Chef Bartolotta their reinvented TV dinners. On top are Kevin and Bryan. Kevin’s meatballs with polenta, roasted cauliflower and roasted pair earn him the win for this week’s quick fire. Although immunity will no longer be rewarded, a version of Kevin’s winning dish will be featured in the new line of Top Chef frozen foods. Jennifer’s chicken roulade and Robin’s burger with egg land them on the bottom of the challenge. 

Padma announces the elimination challenge: cook at Tom Colicchio’s Craftsteak at the MGM Grand for one night. The eager and excited chefs head to Craftsteak after a rather drama-free night of menu planning. As soon as they arrive the chefs disperse and attack kitchen. You can see the twinkle in their eyes and excitement in their voices. The chefs are enamored with all of the meat, “It’s the motherload” one of the chefs exclaim. It was only the perfect set up for another Top Chef twist. Tom introduces the elimination challenge guest judge, actress Natalie Portman. Ready for the twist? Natalie is a vegetarian, which means Craftsteak is going vegetarian for one night. As soon as the chefs realize they will not be using any of the meat they had just previously admired, anguish sets in on their faces. Most of the chefs are thrown by the news, but some are happy to embrace the change. Robin is giddy over the produce walk in, scrambling to grab fresh garbanzo beans and squash blossoms. Mike I. struggles with his dish and Bryan doesn’t even complete his plating. It was actually surprising to see how much the chefs were thrown with the vegetarian challenge.  

Time is quickly up and the chefs present their dishes to the judges:
Robin- stuffed squash blossom, beet carpaccio, fresh garbanzo beans and chermoula    
Eli- confit of eggplant, lentils, garlic puree and radish salad
Michael- asparagus salad, Japanese tomato sashimi and banana polenta
Jennifer- charred baby eggplant, braised fennel, tomatoes and verjus nage
Mike I.- whole roasted leeks with onion jus, baby carrot puree and fingerling potatoes
Bryan- artichoke barigoule, confit of shallot, wild asparagus and fennel puree
Kevin- duo of mushrooms, smoked kale, candied ginger and turnip puree

Back at judge’s table Kevin, Eli and Michael are on top. Kevin’s mushroom duo is praised as inventive and cohesive by guest judge Natalie Portman. However, Michael is visibly upset by Kevin’s win. Sure, it wasn’t as whimsical as your polenta and banana, but it did win for a reason Michael. On the bottom are Mike I., Robin and Jennifer. At judge’s table Robin gives one of the most long winded answers about her dish, “I did consider protein. When I make a vegetarian dish I definitely want to give my vegetarians protein. I eat vegetarian a lot and I saw those garbanzo beans and I love garbanzo beans and got excited by the fresh garbanzo beans which I’ve never worked with before. I had never stuffed a squash blossom before and I was going to play off a chick pea fritter idea or a falafel. There was a lot of flavor going on there and I think the chalua had a lot of flavor going on and I’m not sure if it all worked so well together.” So Robin, were you excited about the garbanzo beans? But in the end Mike I. had to pack his knives. The judges could not get past the poorly cooked, raw leeks in his dish. Farewell Mike I!