Polenta with Basil and Sun-dried Tomato

Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 October 2010 06:56 Written by Flax Wednesday, 27 October 2010 02:49

Polenta is a dish made from corn meal, the thicker corn flour. It is quick to make, easy to cook and can be eaten straight away, rolled out and cut into shapes with a cookie cutter or refrigerated, cut into square and then, either grilled or baked. The terms polenta, corn meal or corn flour are interchangable and any/either/all of these names might appear on the package. The corn meal that I use in this recipe is the darker thicker corn meal-not the maize which is also corn meal but is a thinner and a lighter color.

I recommend this recipe as a kugel alternative. It is egg free, low in fat-it has only 2 tbsp olive oil, and like a kugel, it is good when reheated even on the shabbat plattah.

Another advantage of polenta is that it is extremely versatile. You can spice it up any way you please. In this recipe, I went Italian, because in my experience, anything Italian gets eaten!


olive oil
6 shallots, diced
10 basil leaves, chopped fine
6 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped fine
2 cups water
1 cup soy milk or oat milk
1 cup polenta

Heat the olive oil in a sauce pan. Add the shallots and saute for 2 minutes. Add the water and soy/oat milk and bring to a boil. Add the basil, sun-dried tomatoes, salt and pepper and simmer for 5 minutes. Carefully pour in the corn flour, while stirring gently, to avoid lumps. Simmer, while constantly stirring for about 5 minutes until the polenta mixture thickens and pulls away from the edge of the pan.

Serve immediately or pour into an oiled baking dish and refrigerate.

If you chose to refrigerate this dish then leave it refrigerated for 20 minutes (or more), cut it into squares, brush with olive oil, and reheat it by baking or grilling it in the oven– or by heating it on a warming plate.

A special thanks to Zahvie Appelbaum for helping to inspire this dish.

Note: Most people will only like polenta if it is served warm so do not serve it directly from the refrigerator

Serves 4-6


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Pink and Purple Quinoa

Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 August 2011 08:04 Written by Flax Wednesday, 20 October 2010 04:28

What Beauutiful Colors!

After making green quinoa with my class last week, I decided to stay in color mode, especially after promising to make orange soup with them. This dish was inspired by Red Kuba Soup and I was really excited when it worked. While you can easily make this dish with rice, quinoa is a bit more resistant to color change. The purple color comes from the beets (and a little bit of pomegranate concentrate) and the pink comes from gozi berries.

Did I hear you say gozi what? Gozi berries are the latest fad in weight loss. Gozi berries have a high glycemic index which means that they raise your sugar level and keep it a high level for a relatively longer period of time than, say, chocolate cake. Does this mean that you’ll lose weight? That’s up to you. If you eat gozi berries and also eat chocolate cake as well than I’m going to have to say “not” but the gozi berries might stop you from wanting to eat the cake by making you think that you are not so hungry. As for myself however, I don’t really need to be hungry to eat chocolate cake but it is certainly worth trying.
Gozi berries are also slightly sour in flavor which means that they have a cleansing effect on the liver. Overall, while they don’t make the Top Ten Food List, they are still on my blog (the chocolate cake remains disappointed).


olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 large beet, chopped
1 tsp pomegranate concentrate
2 cups quinoa, rinsed
4 cups water
1 tsp gozi berries
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp turmeric
salt and pepper

yellow pepper, chopped
brocoli sprouts
shang mei mushrooms

Heat the olive oil in a 2 liter pot. Add the onion and saute for 3 minutes, add the beets and spices and saute for 3 more minutes. Add the water and the lemon juice and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the quinoa and the gozi berries and simmer until the water is almost completely absorbed. (About 10 minutes.) Remove from the flame, stir, and allow to stand covered for an additional 5 minutes.

Garnish with brocoli sprouts, shang mei mushrooms and yellow pepper

Serve warm. Serves 4-6


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Spinach Soup

Last Updated on Sunday, 17 October 2010 12:58 Written by Flax Sunday, 17 October 2010 12:54

This soup is a healthier version of a Russian Spinach Soup. Where the Russian soup calls for potatoes, I substitute the potato with millet and quinoa.
Millet is one of the least used grains. It is sweet and salty in flavor and drying in nature. It is also a diuretic. It strengthens the kidneys and builds the yin. Another bonus is that it promotes good breath by retarding bacterial growth in the mouth. It is high in protein and it has a rich silicon content-this is good for pregnancy and preventing miscarriage. It is also one of the best grains for treating candida due to its anti-fungal properties.
The combination of spinach and millet is very balanced. While spinach can be used to treat constipation, millet can be useful for diarrhea. Thus while the spinach is softening the stool, the millet prevents it from becoming to extreme.


1 onion, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
2 bunches spinach, washed well
1/2 bunch parsley
5 sprigs dill
2 liters water
2 cups oat milk (optional)
1/4 cup millet
1/4 cup quinoa
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot. Saute the onion for 1 minute. Add the carrots and celery and continue to saute for two more minutes. Add the water (and oat milk) and bring to a boil. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer over a low flame for 30-60-minutes.

Puree and serve.

Serves 6

Note: I added hiziki to my soup, just because I like to add seaweed to whatever I eat. Feel free to do the same, it doesn’t enhance or detract from the flavor in any way.


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