Nature’s ombré: blood oranges!

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Hello!

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Fun fact of the day – did you know that ricotta is actually *technically* not a cheese? It’s considered a dairy product since it’s made from a dairy by-product, whey. The name comes from the Latin recocta, or ‘twice cooked’. Fascinating! I love things like this.

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Anyway! I’ve got ricotta on the brain since I made this tart for the weekend.

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Blood oranges are very much in season right now, which is making me very happy – I LOVE their color (and flavor!) They pair so well with vanilla bean, it’s almost criminal.

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This tart is lightly sweet, as is everything I make – but packs a powerful orange punch. As a child, I really didn’t like the orange and chocolate combination – what was I thinking?! Thankfully, I aged into more accepting tastebuds, and am happily part of the citrus+chocolate tribe these days.

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Perfect for breakfast or dessert – as usual, we ate it both ways. Last weekend, we did a 9 mile hike from Taraval to Lands’ End & back; this weekend was a lighter 5.5 mile up to Twin Peaks and back. I don’t have any photos from today’s; it was hazy and I wasn’t feeling super motivated – so here is one from last weekend! It was a gorgeous day, and those 9 miles flew by.

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I’ll be back in mid-Feb with some new posts – C and I are going skiing this week (wooo!!!) and after that I’m taking a bit of time off for some r&r with my mama in a nice, tropical location (which hopefully will allow some of annoying & uncomfortable AF autoimmune symptoms to calm down. Ideally, I’ll just spend a ton of time in the water…)

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Happy weekend!

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Ricotta, Vanilla Bean and Blood Orange Tart on a Chocolate Polenta Crust

Lightly sweet but with plenty of orange flavor – for those who love the orange and chocolate combination! Perfect for dessert with a blob of ice cream, or for breakfast. Gluten free and refined sugar free. Yield: 1 9″ tart. A Wait are Those Cookies original! Adapted from my other ricotta tart, here.

For the crust:

1.5 c almond flour
1/4 c unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 c cornmeal
1/4 c unsweetened cacao powder
heaping 1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
6 tbsp coconut oil, melted

In a large bowl, stir together almond flour, cornmeal, cacao powder, coconut, sea salt, and baking soda. Add in vanilla, maple, and melted coconut oil and stir until completely combined. The dough will look crumbly, but you’ll be able to press it together with your fingers.

Preheat the oven to 350, and lightly grease a 9″ tart pan or pie plate with coconut oil. Press the crust into the plate and up the sides with a spoon or your fingers, creating a smooth edge (or not, your call!). Poke the bottom with a fork a few times, and bake for 15 minutes.

For the filling:

1.5 c (15 oz) full fat ricotta
1/2 c full fat coconut milk
scant 1/4 c maple syrup
2 egg yolks
1 egg
zest of 2 blood oranges
Juice of 1 blood orange
1 tbsp vanilla bean paste

This is as easy as it gets: toss ricotta into a large bowl, and stir in the rest of the ingredients: coconut milk, maple, egg yolks + egg, orange zest + juice, and vanilla paste, mixing well to prevent any lumps (heaven forbid).

Tart Assembly:
Pour the ricotta filling into the baked and cooled tart shell. Place in the oven at 350 and bake for about 40-45 minutes, until filling is set. Let cool completely before serving.
Top with sliced blood oranges and shredded coconut if desired! Keep refrigerated until serving. Keeps well overnight in the fridge, covered loosely in plastic wrap – arguably it’s almost better the next day!

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Cake for breakfast? Sign me up.

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Hello! December is progressing at a ridiculously fast clip, as it always seems to….

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I’ve been enjoying all the holiday things – spent yesterday at the Dickens Fair to see friends and fave human do some performing; and happened to come upon these hilarious dead rat gingerbread (clearly I need some new cookie cutters…)

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C and I loved this cake! I riffed on my last ricotta cake to see if I could get it to be more like a cheesecake – this one is definitely that. It reminds me most of cornbread crossed with cheesecake, which sounds weird but I swear it’s amazing. It’s light but dense at the same time, but in a way that isn’t heavy. As per usual it’s not very sweet – the chopped apples in the batter bring just the right amount of sweetness.

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Aside from the extra bowl required to beat the egg whites (which I find super fun – it’s my favorite bit of kitchen alchemy), the cake comes together super quickly and with a minimum of fuss. Arguably could be made in the morning for brunch, but it also keeps excellently in the fridge overnight and is almost better cold, in my opinion, making it a great candidate to be made the night before.

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It goes superbly with ice cream for dessert, but is equally amazing sliced in simple wedges for breakfast. Of course we at it alongside eggs & kale – it would be really perfect to feed a holiday morning crowd!

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I am so very tempted to make this again, and soon – it’s definitely a favorite of mine. Luckily, I’m out of ricotta at the moment, so I’ll settle for brunch with a friend. Happy holidays!! Hug your loved ones and bake them things, I promise they’ll be happy!

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Ricotta Polenta Cake with Apples and Pomegranate

I LOVE this cake. Only lightly sweet, it’s somewhere closer to being a cornbread crossed with a cheesecake. The apples bring just the right amount of natural sweetness – it’s perfect for breakfast. Yield: 1 9″ cake. Adapted from my last ricotta cake, here.

6 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 c maple syrup, divided
zest of 2 meyer lemons
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs, separated
1.25 c almond flour
3/4 c fine polenta
scant 1/2 tsp sea salt
1.25 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1 granny smith apple, diced
1/2 granny smith apple, thinly sliced, for garnish
1/3 cup slivered almonds, optional for garnish
a sprinkle of coconut sugar
thinly sliced apples & pomegranate arils for garnish
a bit of chopped crystalized ginger, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 325, and either use an 8″ springform pan OR do like I did and use a 9″ cake pan, well greased and lined with two strips of parchment paper so that you can lift the cake out onto a cooling rack easily.

Using a hand mixer (or a stand mixer) , beat butter, half the maple, lemon zest, and vanilla in a large bowl. Add in egg yolks and beat until combined, another minute-ish. In a smaller bowl, whisk together almond flour, polenta, and sea salt. Add the dry ingredients into the larger bowl, add ricotta, and stir to combine.

In a separate, non-reactive bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form (preferably with your hand mixer or stand mixer so that your arm doesn’t fall off) – drizzle in the rest of the maple while mixing.

Fold the egg whites into the batter in two batches, then fold in chopped apples. Pour the batter into the cake pan, and top with sliced apples and almonds, if using. Sprinkle with a bit of coconut sugar. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until a tester inserted into the middle comes out clean (mine was done closer to 50 min). Let cool for at least 10 minutes, then lift out onto a cooling rack to cool completely, removing parchment from underneath if you used it. Let cool completely before serving; also delicious cold if you want to stick it in the fridge for an hour or two.

Garnish with pomegranate arils before serving! Excellent with a bit of vanilla ice cream (really, what isn’t) for dessert or eat it alongside eggs for breakfast. Keeps well for several days, covered in the fridge or stored in an airtight glass container.

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Can’t stop, won’t stop with the citrus!

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Can you tell we love citrus over here? I think the last… 3? or 5? (I think it’s five…) desserts have featured those beautiful hued little guys…

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I’d have to say it’s a three-way tie for my favorite citrus between grapefruit, meyer lemon and blood oranges…luckily, this cake covers two out of three!

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Once again, it’s a dessert that easily does double duty for breakfast – just add some ice cream for dessert and you’re good to go. I love lemon curd on anything, so this is an easy sell for me. We loved it both ways – it’s almost scone-like when eaten alongside eggs & kale! (and coffee. let’s not leave that out)

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I’ve never used mace in my baking prior to this – apparently, it’s a relative of nutmeg, which I never knew. It plays really well against citrus, both grapefruit and meyer lemon, and adds a really interesting flavor profile. I love olive oil in cakes like this – it brings a rich fruitiness that isn’t otherwise found in butter or coconut oil.

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In other news, same ‘ol on the health issues front – I am still looking for answers and still frustrated. As I’ve said before, I try to keep it light in this space, but I have to admit this wasn’t a banner week for me. A little therapeutic baking and some quality time with fave human went a long way towards making the week seem not so overwhelming.

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Meyer lemons are perfect right now – and if anything is therapeutic, it is the scent of meyers! I love making curd with them – in fact, I had made and frozen a few batched not that long ago. Down to one now… which will probably get consumed next week, knowing how we roll around here.

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Happy almost-April! Go make yourself some citrusy goodness.

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Grapefruit Polenta Cake with Meyer Lemon Curd

Gluten free and refined sugar free. Light, springtime dessert – or breakfast – this cake is fruity from the olive oil and grapefruit, and goes perfectly alongside a huge dollop of lemon curd or some ice cream, or better yet, both. We loved it both for dessert and breakfast – it’s almost reminiscent of a scone, so works well alongside eggs and kale. Yield: 1 9″ cake, serves 2-8. Cake adapted from Saveur magazine, here. Be careful with the bake time on this one – I was going by the recipe and it ended up slightly on the dry side b/c I didn’t pull it soon enough. I updated my bake times below to reflect that – otherwise, the flavor is stellar! And a large drizzle of lemon curd solves the dryness issue just fine ;)

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For the curd – my favorite recipe to date:

2 whole eggs
3 egg yolks
1/3 c meyer lemon juice
zest of 4 meyer lemons
pinch of sea salt
2.5 tbsp maple syrup
3.5 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla

I used a double boiler for this lemon curd, which literally is a game changer. Highly recommended! Heat water in the bottom of the double boiler until it’s at a high simmer. In the top of the double boiler, whisk together eggs, egg yolks, lemon zest and juice, sea salt, and maple syrup. Add in the butter one tbsp at a time, whisking continuously, not adding the next tbsp until the first is completely melted. Whisk in vanilla. Cook, stirring constantly, until the lemon curd thickens and coats the back of a spoon (or your whisk leaves tracks) – usually around 5 to 8 minutes. It’s a noticeable change when it happens, so just watch the cooking magic! Remove from heat and store in a glass container in the fridge until ready for use.

For the cake:

scant 1/4 c maple syrup
1/4 c grapefruit juice
zest of 2 grapefruits
2⁄3 cup full-fat plain Greek yogurt
1⁄3 cup olive oil
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2⁄3 cup brown rice flour
1⁄3 cup almond flour
1⁄3 cup coarsely ground yellow cornmeal, preferably Bob’s Red Mill
3 tbsp arrowroot starch
3 tbsp. tapioca starch
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground mace
1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
1⁄4 cup sliced almonds

Preheat the oven to 350, and either use an 8″ springform pan OR do like I did and use a 9″ cake pan, well greased and lined with two thick strips of parchment paper so that you can lift the cake out onto a cooling rack easily.

Whisk maple, zest and juices, plus yogurt, oil, and egg in a bowl until combined. In a separate bowl, whisk rice and almond flours, cornmeal, arrowroot and tapioca starches, baking powder, mace, and salt until combined; make a well in the center. Whisk in yogurt mixture until a smooth batter forms. Pour into prepared pan and sprinkle with sliced almonds. Bake until cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 30-40 minutes. Let cool for at least 10 minutes, then lift out onto a cooling rack to cool completely, removing parchment from underneath if you used it. Let cool completely before serving.

Store any leftovers covered on the counter – this is a cake that dries out quickly, so I’d recommend eating it within a day or two of baking.

Serve with meyer lemon curd, more sliced grapefruit & ice cream for dessert, or just with lemon curd for breakfast!

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Let’s get seasonal!

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Tis the season! As always, it feels like it’s sneaking up on me.

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But I do love the excuse to get very seasonal with my baking – the colors of winter fruit are so pretty!

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Pomegranate arils always look like piles of rubies to me – the light shines through them so beautifully, like it does through stained glass windows.

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This cake is the best excuse of cake for breakfast I’ve made recently – lightly sweet, lemony and delicious. It’s gluten free and refined sugar free, too!

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Incidentally, it’s also high in protein from the almond flour and the ricotta – added bonus, if that’s your thing. We enjoyed it two ways: it’s perfect for dessert with a bit of vanilla ice cream, and excellent for breakfast alongside eggs & kale (see exhibit a).

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This cake also includes beaten egg whites – this is one of my favorite examples of baking alchemy: I love watching the egg whites go from straight liquid to soft, foamy whirls. I never get tired of it!

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On that note, I’ll keep it short and sweet today. I do hope you’re enjoying the holiday season with loved ones! Might I suggest feeding them cake? Everyone wins!

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Lemon Ricotta Cake with Pomegranate Arils

Lightly sweet, perfectly lemony-almondy – dense but not overwhelming. Gluten free and refined sugar free. Not dairy free, but I’m thinking that either non-dairy butter or coconut oil would work for a sub, and I know they make non-dairy ricotta from almond milk. So! We have options. This version does away with the glutens but obviously contains dairy. Serve wedges with a bit of ice cream for dessert, or alongside breakfast. Yield: 1 8″ or 9″ cake, depending on the pan you use (see recipe). Recipe adapted from Foolproof Living, here.

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Let’s make cake!

7 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 c maple syrup, divided
zest of 4 lemons
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs, separated
1.25 c (5 oz) almond flour
1 c (4 1/2 ounces) fine polenta
scant 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1/3 cup slivered almonds, optional for garnish
pomegranate arils – I used one full pomegranate

Preheat the oven to 325, and either use an 8″ springform pan OR do like I did and use a 9″ cake pan, well greased and lined with parchment paper so that you can lift the cake out onto a cooling rack easily (see photo for reference).

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Using a hand mixer (or a stand mixer) , beat butter, half the maple, lemon zest, and vanilla in a large bowl. Add in egg yolks and beat until combined, another minute-ish. In a smaller bowl, whisk together almond flour, polenta, and sea salt. Add the dry ingredients into the larger bowl, add ricotta, and stir to combine.

In a separate, non-reactive bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form (preferably with your hand mixer or stand mixer so that your arm doesn’t fall off) – drizzle in the rest of the maple while mixing.

Fold the egg whites into the batter in two batches. Pour the batter into the cake pan, and top with almonds, if using. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a tester inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let cool for at least 10 minutes, then lift out onto a cooling rack to cool completely, removing parchment from underneath if you used it. Let cool completely before serving; also delicious cold if you want to stick it in the fridge for an hour or two.

Garnish with pomegranate arils before serving! Excellent with a bit of vanilla ice cream (really, what isn’t) for dessert or eat it alongside eggs for breakfast. Keeps well for several days, covered in the fridge or stored in an airtight glass container.

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Appropriately autumnal baking

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There is something so soothing about early morning baking. I don’t necessarily choose to bake at 6:30a, but when a workout and work have to happen before I can deliver & eat dessert, baking by necessity becomes an early morning activity. That being said, though, it’s a very meditative way to spend a morning, especially when it’s still dark outside.

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Of course, then of course there’s that moment when you go to put socks on and somehow find some crystallized ginger stuck to your foot… um… no comment.

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It also gives me a great sense of productivity to know I’ve created something before I even leave the house that day – and then add a workout and a highly productive work day and by 6p I feel extraordinary accomplished.

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And THEN I get to eat cake! Ha. Win win, all around. Besides, coming back into my apartment after work, I’m greeted with a waft of OMG THIS CAKE SMELLS AMAZING – always a good sign.

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This cake was well loved by both of us – it is definitely going on the to-make-again list – and I have high standards for that list! The cornmeal/polenta give it great texture – it’s a cross somewhere between cake and cornbread, in the best way possible. It’s amazing with ice cream for dessert, and equally so alongside eggs and kale for breakfast – see exhibit A below.

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Besides that, just in case you needed proof as to how loved this cake was, see exhibit B:

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No crumbs. One (large) slice left – that is after a stint of very productive yard work & leaf raking – that cake had NO chance.

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I can’t believe it’s already November. What happened to October?! Happy autumn!

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Apple Ginger Polenta Cake

Gluten free, refined sugar free, and dairy free. Lightly sweet, sort of like a cross between cake and cornbread – perfect for dessert (served with ice cream!) and breakfast alongside eggs and leafy green things. Yield: 1 8″ cake, serves… um… 2! Ha.

1 c almond meal
2/3 c yellow corn meal (I used medium grind)
1/3 c rice flour
2 tsp baking powder
Heaping 1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
2 eggs
1/6 c maple sugar
1/6 maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla
2 Granny Smith apples
1/3 c crystallized ginger chunks, chopped*

*I have also made this with fresh ginger and it’s equally amazing; finely mince peeled, fresh ginger root and add to the batter. The quantity is up to you – I love ginger, so I used a knob probably about 1.5″ long

Preheat the oven to 350, and line an 8″ cake pan with parchment paper, or do like I did and use strips of parchment paper for easy removal. Be sure to grease the pan first though to prevent any stickage.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the maple sugar and maple syrup until soft and fluffy. Add in olive oil and vanilla. In a smaller bowl, whisk together almond flour, polenta, rice flour, and baking powder. Stir dry into wet. Cut one and a half apples into cubes and thinly slice remaining half. Add the apple cubes and chopped ginger and stir until just combined. Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan, and smooth it out a bit.

Arrange a few apple slices on top of the cake, sprinkle with a bit of maple (or coconut) sugar. Bake at 350F for 40 minutes. Check the cake after 35 minutes; mine was perfect at 40. If the top of the cake is browning too quickly during baking, you can always tent it with a sheet of tinfoil.

I stuck mine in the fridge for a few hours of storage, which didn’t hurt it at all. It keeps well on the counter overnight (covered with foil), and makes a ridiculously amazing addition to breakfast the next day!

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IMG_1632Early morning mis en place…

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Sassy savories and other unphotogenic food items

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carpet picnic!

Woah woah woah.

Two savory posts in a row? Is she sick?

..

Nahh. Just inspired! You see… I do make savory food hugely often. Like, my mother says it’s impossible to keep me in vegetables. As in… I eat. Them. ALL. Alllll the time! (And applesauce, that too). Except that usually by dinner time, I have no interest in photographing my food because a) I’m hungry and b) by the time I’m finished photographing it’ll be cold and c) I’m lazy and d) … okay never mind there was no d. Whatever, suffice it to say this is the main list of reasons why I never get around to photographing savory dinners. Also because savory stuff can be kind of uncooperative on the photography front sometimes…. like it’s delicious but it’s freaking ugly. Or it sasses me and gets all unphotogenic when I think it’s going to cooperate. I hate when that happens! No one wants to look at ugly food, right?!

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Anyway… but this time things cooperated! Ish. And I’ve been keeping myself fully stocked in cookies, just so you know (I wouldn’t want you to get concerned, or anything). Besides, I need snacks for after my bodyrock and lifting sessions, durrrr. Sore and shaky definitely qualifies for a snack of a healthy cookie and kombucha…

This dish was a bit of an experiment, which happily turned out well. Gotta love that. It’s easy and comes together in a snap with pantry staples, which is also excellent. ANNDD I invented it! So you should doubly love it and go running to your kitchen, obviously.

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Salmon Primavera with Polenta

Recipe from.. me! The polenta is my favorite recipe from the Moosewood Cookbook. The rest was inspired by the can of salmon lurking in the pantry. Serves 3, with a teeny bit of leftovers (though this does make enough polenta for another serving, there isn’t as much topping left).

  • 1.5  c polenta
  • 5 c water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 can of salmon, flaked and deboned (if necessary)
  • 1 zucchini, grated*
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 box of mushrooms (7-8ish), sliced
  • 3/4 c frozen peas, thawed
  • a good handful of fresh spinach
  • marjoram, basil, salt and pepper to taste**
  • grated parmesan, to garnish

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*I used whatever veggies we had, but any would be good. I like the sweetness of peas with salmon though, so try to have those at least (unless you hate them, of course)

**we grow fresh marjoram, so I used a few sprigs, and 2 frozen basil cubes. I salted the salmon a bit before use and then tossed in a bit later, and as for pepper, don’t use my family as an example as we’re pepper-nuts (read: we use an excessive amount on everything). Do what suits you!

In a saucepan, heat 4 cups of water to a a boil. Combine the polenta and salt with the other cup of water, stirring slightly (this prevents lumps). Once the water boils, toss in polenta and whisk constantly until the polenta thickens (for me, 11-12 minutes as I use a quicker cooking, not instant, polenta). Once thick (and you’ll know, as your arm will be about to fall off), remove from heat and stir in about a tablespoon of olive oil.

In a saute pan, heat a good glug of olive oil over medium heat. When hot, add marjoram and basil, followed by grated zucchini, bell pepper, and mushrooms. Saute until veggies are fork tender and the mushrooms have released some juices. Toss in spinach, peas, and flaked salmon and saute a few minutes more. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve over hot polenta with plenty of cheese (obvs)!

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