Friday, February 17, 2012

(Raw) Polenta with Mushroom Ragout

I'm a bit fanatical about polenta. It tends to border on the insane.

As a result, I was a little bit skeptical when I saw a raw-ified version of polenta. All the same, I didn't want to be that girl, sticking my nose in the air in a fit of foodie pretension. If I did that, then what would separate me from the many other that girls (and guys) sticking their noses up at something they've never tried just because someone said it was vegan? I can't get annoyed with these people if I'm doing the same thing, now can I? And I will not relinquish my right to be annoyed at the closed-minded. Never!

Am I ever glad that I decided to forgo the nose sticking in favour of trying something new, because this is one super fun, innovative and delicious raw vegan recipe. It comes from Ani's Raw Food Kitchen.

Polenta is made from cornmeal, so fresh corn kernals are the perfect raw alternative when it comes to flavour. What I really love about this recipe is how Ani mimics the texture as well as the taste, giving the kernals a whirl in the food processor along with some raw cashews. With that you have the corn taste from the fresh kernals and the gritty texture from the cashews. Even a polenta purist like me can appreciate that kind of creative deliciousness.

I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about the mushroom ragout because mushrooms and I don't always play nicely, usually because their texture sketches me out. And that's when they are cooked. I'd never eaten a raw mushroom before and was a bit apprehensive to try it for the first time in a recipe that calls for nearly 3 cups of the creepy little things. Especially when considering that in the past I've not been above picking little mushroom bits out of lasagnas and rice bowls in restaurants.

But look at me, maturing before your very eyes. Not only was I not phased by the raw mushrooms, I was madly in love with them. The whole meal, really. My favourite recipe from Ani's Raw Food Kitchen that I've tried so far, hands down.

I really love that I'm getting into mushrooms. Humble little fungi that they are, their nutritional profile should never be ignored. B vitamins, folate, protein and antioxidants (although it is true that the more fancy mushrooms, like the shiitake and and oyster - which I'm typically to cheap to buy - have the best antioxidant profile). Current research is also honing in on white button mushrooms as a plant-based, inexpensive, non-sunlight source of Vitamin D - the potential of which is especially important to those of us living far away from the equator.

So there it is. I like raw mushrooms!

Further, one of the best things about raw uncooking is that you can do all the prep work in advance and leftovers taste exactly the same the next day. Even the day after. Ani's recipes include a "will keep for __ days" feature, which is a great resource when meal planning. The leftovers are especially perfect for workday lunches, as you don't have to worry about finding a way to warm them up. During the winter months your car might even be enough to keep them fresh, if you don't happen to have a fridge in your workplace. Low maintenance weekday lunches made the world go 'round!

If you don't have a copy of Ani's Raw Food Kitchen, this is one of the recipes available on Google Books. You can find it by clicking here and scrolling down a little bit.

In the meantime I really need to work on my raw food photography skills. It's amazing, really, how good I am at making uncooked food look like such a hot mess.


Carrie (Carrie on Vegan) said...

Ha ha, I couldn't resist posting a comment about this post and your statement about your raw food looking like a hot mess. It's funny how sometimes food pictures can be so deceiving!

Amber and Tanuki said...

This was one of my fav raw food recipes. I always switch raw cashews for another nut. As much as I loved roasted cashews, the raw version is nasty!

Dawn said...

Interesting dish! I'd try it.

Also, you might be pleasantly surprised to learn (I was!) that actually, white button mushrooms (and therefore criminis and portobellos, which are just white buttons aged appropriately) have almost the very highest antioxidants of the (known) mushrooms! They are beaten only by Porcini mushrooms.

The shiitakes and oysters have fewer antioxidants!

I know I was surprised!

I think it's great news because I love the regular ol' white mushrooms :-)

Mary said...

Carrie - So true! My favourite meals are always the ones that look the most horrible!

Amber - My husband feels the same way about raw cashews! I don't mind them as long there's some other stuff with them but never on their own.

Dawn - No way!! Everything I've read up to this point has said the opposite about glad to learn this, since white button are the only ones I really, really like!

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