It all started with an avocado… as many good stories often do (even if they don’t tell you as such). Apparently, in many culinary circles, fried avocado is all the rage. This useless factoid was in my head as I made my way through Whole Foods late (and absurdly hungry) on a Friday night. So I bought one.
Avocados, for me, are quite an indulgence. Don’t hand me the nonsense about good fats or we will have a long, potentially heated debate that no one wants and where no one wins. But a little avocado here and there? I will splurge. What I will not do, however, is fry one. But I purchased with the intent of cooking–thinking there is enough natural fat within it to get a good sear on.
Fast forward to Sunday. Home and fueled on some of the best coffee I’ve ever had (there WILL be a post on that later), I was jonsing for polenta. This happens, and when it does, I find the best thing to do is… make some polenta.
And that’s what I did.
While the polenta was cooking, however, I had the most wicked and decadent of thoughts… Add a little of that now perfectly ripened avocado to the top of my polenta when it was done for a fabulous and rich bite of lunch. Though instead of turning on another burner, I decided to just broil the avocado. Why not? It seemed perfectly reasonable, even if I’d never heard of it before (though where there is fire, there is someone who has done it before).
As the avocado broiled away and the polenta set up, I recognized that something would likely be needed to bring the two flavors together. Hello tahini lime glaze!
I will admit the following recipe is far beyond my usual low-fat cooking… it’s a treat well worth the occasional indulgence. As this came together in my head, I was more and more pleased about the fact that I unintentionally combined a good dose of Mediterranean fare with a Middle Eastern flair. Fusion typically isn’t something I strive for, but I think I succeeded in this one.
Polenta Cakes with Avocado and Tahini Lime Glaze
For the polenta
2 cups cornmeal (yellow polenta)
2 cups vegetable stock
6 cups water
⅓ cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon sumac*
1 tablespoon safflower*
¼ cup toasted sesame seeds
*Sumac and safflower are Middle Eastern spices that lend a subtle sweetness to the recipe. If you are choosing to omit due to lack of availability (or any other reason) then I recommend halving the amount of cayenne.
- In a large pot bring stock and water to a simmer.
- Prepare an 8×13 baking pan with a quick spray of non stick cooking spray. Spread sesame seeds on the bottom of the pan to cover.
- To the simmering liquids stir in cornmeal.
- Allow to cook approximately 5 minutes, then slowly stir in nutritional yeast, cayenne, onion, garlic, sumac, and safflower.
- Stir polenta regularly as it cooks, approximately 20-30 minutes (will be ready when very thick and spoon will stand upright on its own without falling over).
- Transfer the hot polenta to your prepped pan, spreading evenly.
- Allow to cool for about an hour (30 mins) in the refrigerator.
- Cut a large ripe avocado along the length to de-pit. Slice each half into 4-5 thick slices, removing peel, and place on a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
- Broil avocado slices for 12-14 minutes, until tops are golden brown and a little bubbly. Allow to cool to room temperature (note: toaster ovens are fabulous if you are only broiling one at a time).
- Once cooled, chop into bite-sized pieces.
Tahini Lime Glaze
2 tablespoons tahini
1 teaspoon lime juice
2-3 teaspoons tamari (or soy sauce)
- In a small prep bowl, add tahini, lime juice and 2 teaspoons of tamari.
- Mix with a fork until just incorporated together (too much mixing will emulsify the tahini and it will end up a thick, but still tasty, paste). Use more tamari to thin as needed.
Some Assembly Required
- Using a round cutter, cut a few circles of the polenta from the pan and plate. (if you don’t care the shape, just slice off a couple squares.
- Top each cirlce with a few pieces of avocado.
- Drizzle a bit of the glaze over top.
- Serve immediately, or refrigerate until ready to serve, allowing to come back to room temperature before serving.
Depending on taste and size of your circles, 1 avocado will top about 6 pieces of polenta.
Refrigerate leftover polenta for up to a week and enjoy in other dishes!