Mushroom, beetroot and lentil slice with polenta mash crust

I’m a bit obsessed by the combination of urad chilka (black split lentils) and mushrooms at the moment, I think it’s the dark earthy colours as much as the flavours! I wanted to combine them with beetroot for a little sweetness and horseradish for heat, but fancied something a bit different than stew, or soup.
So I’ve used a combination of potato, butternut squash and sweet potato mashed with polenta to make a lovely flavoursome alternative to a pastry crust. And, of course, it’s rather healthier too, not being made with fat.
I should possibly have made a little more effort with the ‘lattice’ top, it looks like I have lovingly arranged wotsits on top… but it’s really very tasty!


Mushroom, lentil and beetroot slice with polenta mash crust

serves 4 to 6

for the polenta mash crust
400 g potato, cut into 1 cm cubes
200 g butternut squash, cut into 1 cm cubes
150 g sweet potato, cut into 2 cm cubes
(The proportions of vegetables are approximate, change them if you like! Also, there’s no need to be too precise with the size of the cubes, but as the sweet potato cooks more quickly make sure the pieces are roughly twice the size of the other vegetables)
around 1 litre of hot water
150 g quick cook polenta
4 tbsp tapioca flour
salt and pepper
about 2 tsp oil
for the mushroom, beetroot and lentil filling
250 g mushrooms, quartered
1 tbsp olive oil
150 g urad chilka or lentils of your choice
1/4 tsp dried thyme
around 600 ml of the mash veg cooking water
2 cooked beetroot, cubed
4 cm fresh horseradish, grated (or 1-2 tbsp mustard)
1 tbsp cornflour, slaked
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees c.
Lightly oil a 15 x 25 cm baking dish.
Put the potato, squash and sweet potato in a saucepan, add the water and some salt and bring to the boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook for around 15 minutes until soft.
While the vegetables are simmering heat the olive oil in another pan, and saute the mushrooms for a few minutes until softened.
Add the lentils and dried thyme, and then when the mash veg are done, around 600 ml of their cooking water.
Bring to a simmer and cook for around 25 minutes until the lentils are soft and almost all of the liquid has been absorbed.
Mix the drained potato, squash and sweet potato with the polenta, tapioca and salt and pepper and then mash. Tip 3/4 of the mixture into the baking dish, and using your fingers, squash it out to cover the base and go up the sides.


Pat the crust into the dish like this

Spray or drizzle with a little oil and bake for 25 minutes until starting to brown at the edges.
When the lentils are cooked add the beetroot, horseradish and cornflour and stir well. Season with salt and pepper.
Spoon the lentil mixture into the baked crust. Use the reserved polenta mash to make a top for the pie, there should be enough to cover the whole top rolled thinly if you don’t want to do a lattice.
Spray or drizzle with a bit more oil, and bake for 25 minutes.


Fresh from the oven, topped with wotsits… erm… lattice

By E.


Baked butterbean polenta with spicy vegetables

For the last few days water in my area of Lancashire has been contaminated, and has had to be boiled for drinking and food prep. I really can’t complain, as in the grand scheme of things I’ve got it easy, hospitals and care homes have had a very difficult time of it. And of course the hotels and cafe’s of nearby Blackpool are at their busiest time of year!

But having to boil and cool water before using really does take the fun out of cooking, particularly when you’re used to using, and therefore washing, lots and lots of herbs and vegetables! I’ve eaten a lot of tinned soup…

But today I need to cook.

So with the theory that baked polenta won’t be such a pain to wash up as if I’d cooked it in a pan (wet polenta is almost akin to porridge in its ability to glue itself to saucepans I think!), I thought I’d give this method a try.

I’ve added smashed butterbeans for a bit of protein, and because I love them!

As the oven was on for the polenta I thought I’d bake the vegetables too, to make a thick, spicy, flavoursome sauce. I’ve been wary of baked sauces since years ago (when I still believed timings in food magazines…), I made an all in one oven baked ratatouille. It took three times as long as it should have to cook, and was still pretty awful!

So here I’ve staggered the cooking time for the vegetables so that they all cook through and the flavours meld. It does take a while, but hey, while things are in in the oven you can get on with other stuff!

Baked butterbean polenta with spicy vegetables

Baked butterbean polenta with spicy vegetables

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Courgette, mushroom and walnut polenta loaf

So, rather than buying quick cook polenta, I managed to buy the type that needs to be stirred for all eternity*…

Also, I didn’t realise this until I’d tipped it into the pan with the liquid!

This recipe therefore, is a bit of a labour of love.

Thankfully, it tastes great!

I’ll be serving it cold for work lunches, with salad and a little vegan mayo. It would be lovely with homemade tomato sauce or pickles too though.

*okay, not quite that long…

Courgette, mushroom and walnut polenta loaf

Courgette, mushroom and walnut polenta loaf

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Purple sprouting broccoli and polenta bake

Purple sprouting broccoli is looking great in the shops at the moment, such a beautiful colour! I picked some up for only 75p the other day, and really wanted to try a new recipe with it.
I thought it would be nicest to keep it whole, it’s such a pretty vegetable, so put my thinking cap on…
I was idly contemplating toad in the hole yesterday, and wondering about a vegan version.
So then I thought why not use the psb instead of sausages! So I thought about this a little more, and realised that polenta would be a better match than a batter… So it’s not toad in the hole at all, but with the psb, romano peppers, mushrooms and olives it’s a cheerful, tasty dish to brighten up the work day tomorrow.

purple sprouting broccoli and polenta bake

purple sprouting broccoli and polenta bake

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