SPINACH & MUSHROOM POLENTA PIE WITH ALMOND RICOTTA

VEGAN SPINACH AND MUSHROOM POLENTA PIE - The First MessVEGAN SPINACH AND MUSHROOM POLENTA PIE - The First Mess
Ready to cozy up with a big savoury pie for dinner? A slice of this spinach and mushroom polenta pie (with almond ricotta, almond parmesan, and a solid pour of marinara for good measure) served up with a fresh green salad spells winter cozy suppertime perfection to me. This naturally red, green, and gold beauty would be so nice on your holiday table as a vegan option (also gluten-free!) as well. This recipe looks looooong, I can admit it. But 2 of the 4 components are blitzed up in the food processor real quick. The filling is a quick sauté. And even the polenta step could be streamlined by opting for the “instant” variety. The ingredient list is a lil’ longer than usual, but that’s what the holidays are for, right?

This pie kind of looks like a deep dish pizza when it comes out, and I am totally okay with that. It’s hearty and just incredibly satisfying with all of those home-y flavours. You could even crumble some bits of tempeh or some chopped up olives and sauté them with the mushroom filling for a little extra oomph. I kept it a little bit more simple here because I thought that going beyond 15 ingredients might be a bit excessive. Anyway, it’s sorta cheesy, creamy, ever-so-slightly meaty from all the mushrooms, that toasty corn crust is the perfect container for it all, and we even snuck in some greens for your health! ;)

Hope that the season of celebration and togetherness is going well for everyone so far! I’ve been sticking to my journaling, meditation, and exercise routine and it’s really helping me deal with the slowly building frenzy of it all. Just locking in on that routine to protect all of my good energy and to keep the creativity flowing. Be good out there! Meet ya back here soon :D

VEGAN SPINACH AND MUSHROOM POLENTA PIE - The First MessVEGAN SPINACH AND MUSHROOM POLENTA PIE - The First Mess
SPINACH & MUSHROOM POLENTA PIE

Print the recipe here!
SERVES: 6-8
NOTES: Instant polenta will make this one come together even faster! I use a dab of Miyoko’s vegan butter to make the polenta a bit richer, but you could use an equal amount of olive oil.
-You can replace the almonds with raw cashews in both the ricotta and parmesan if you’re looking for a little extra richness.
-You need to act quickly when forming the polenta “crust” as the soft polenta will firm up fast.

ALMOND PARMESAN
½ cup sliced almonds
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon lemon zest

ALMOND RICOTTA
1 cup sliced almonds, soaked for at least 1 hour
¼ cup hot water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons olive oil
½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 clove garlic, chopped
sea salt, to taste

POLENTA CRUST

2 cups water
1 tablespoon vegan butter (or olive oil)
pinch of red pepper flakes
sea salt, to taste
¾ cup cornmeal
¼ cup almond parmesan

MUSHROOM FILLING
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, sliced (or use a shallot)
⅔ lb cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 cups baby spinach, packed
sea salt & ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup marinara sauce
chopped basil, for serving
extra almond parmesan, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil a 9-inch round dish with minimum 2-inch high sides.

Make the almond parmesan. In a food processor, combine the ½ cup sliced almonds, nutritional yeast, salt, garlic powder, and lemon zest. Pulse until you have a fine meal. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Make the almond ricotta. First, drain the almonds. Then, in the food processor (no need to rinse), combine the drained almonds, hot water, lemon juice, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, garlic, and salt. Run the motor until you have a smooth, ricotta-like texture, scraping the sides down a couple times. Set aside.

Make the polenta crust. In a medium saucepan, combine the water, vegan butter, red pepper flakes, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Grab a whisk and slowly start pouring the cornmeal into the boiling water in a steady stream, whisking the whole time. Once you’ve poured out all the cornmeal and there are no visible clumps, switch to a rubber spatula. Bring the polenta to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Cook, stirring very often, until quite thick but still slightly fluid, about 15 minutes. Stir in ¼ cup almond parmesan and adjust seasoning.

Remove the polenta from the heat and scrape it into your prepared round dish. Working quickly with the spatula, push the soft polenta up the sides of the dish to form a “crust.” Make it as even as you can and smooth out the bottom completely. The consistency should be like Play Doh and quite easy to work with. Set aside once complete.

Make the mushroom filling. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onions to the skillet and cook, stirring often, until quite soft and translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add the mushrooms to the skillet and let them sit for a full minute. Stir the mushrooms up and let them sit for another full minute. Keep stirring the mushrooms until they’re soft and glistening. Then, add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the spinach and cook until just-wilted, about 1 minute. Season the mushroom mixture with salt and pepper and stir. Remove from the heat.

Assemble the spinach and mushroom polenta pie. Spread half of the almond ricotta across the bottom of the polenta crust. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the mushroom and spinach mixture to the pie on top of the ricotta, leaving as much moisture in the skillet as you can. Then, spoon the marinara sauce on top of the spinach and mushrooms. Dollop the remaining almond ricotta on top. Sprinkle a bit of almond parmesan and brush a bit of olive oil on the exposed polenta crust if you like.

Bake the spinach and mushroom polenta pie for 25 minutes, or until sufficiently warmed through. Turn the oven to broil and broil the pie for an additional 3 minutes to brown the top.

Serve the spinach and mushroom polenta pie hot with chopped basil on top and extra almond parmesan.

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