Crispy Polenta with Toasted Walnuts and Fresh Peaches

Sometimes I get into a rut making the same foods, especially when it comes to breakfast. I was perusing the grocery store shelves, pondering new breakfast ideas when I remembered a yummy breakfast my brother-in-law made one time while I was visiting. I decided to try making something similar. It’s really simple to make and is a tasty alternative to the usual breakfast foods.

This dish features polenta, a tasty porridge made of cornmeal. I bought pre-made Polenta at Trader Joes for this, but you can make it yourself at home pretty easily. I was aiming for a quick breakfast this morning, so that’s why I used premade. Making polenta yourself isn’t hard, but it does take a little time and a decent amount of stirring. The blog theKitchn has pretty good instructions and info about how to make your own polenta. She uses butter in hers, but you can easily veganize it by using vegan butter instead. If you make it yourself, try to make it on the firmer side or let it sit overnight to firm up in the fridge.

A quick note about the “recipe”. This isn’t really a set in stone recipe so much as an idea you can customize. If you don’t like walnuts, leave them out or use almonds, pecans, etc. instead. The same goes for the brown sugar…you could use maple syrup, agave, etc. And of course the peaches are optional too. You could also use berries, jam, apple butter, or any other topping you like! This dish is sweet, but if you’re looking for a more savory polenta breakfast dish I posted the recipe for a Polenta Breakfast Casserole about a year and a half ago. It’s really, really good, so check it out if you missed it!

Crispy Polenta With Toasted Walnuts and Fresh Peaches

Ingredients: (Makes enough for 2-3 people)

18 ounce package of Polenta (or a batch of homemade polenta)
vegan butter
about a 1/2 cup of walnuts
2 – 3 Tbsp of brown sugar (about 1 Tbsp per serving)
1 fresh peach

Directions:

  • Slice the polenta into 1/2 inch thick slices. Pan fry the slices in a little bit of vegan butter. Let them get crispy around the edges. Gently flip the polenta slices. They’ll fall apart if you’re too rough with them, but if you’re gentle they should hold together.
  • Toast the walnuts in a pan over medium heat, stirring them often so they don’t burn.
  • Wash and slice your peach.
  • Place the crispy polenta on a plate. Sprinkle the toasted walnuts on top, and then sprinkle on some brown sugar. Place the sliced peach on top and enjoy your simple, yummy breakfast!

Vegan Breakfast Month – Odd n’ Ends Breakfast Tips

My vegan breakfast themed month is nearing an end. Hopefully some of the recipes I’ve posted have given you some inspiration for new vegan breakfast options. I’ll wrap up the theme with a few odds n’ ends vegan breakfast tips that didn’t seem worthy of a entire blog post individually.

Pancakes:

I didn’t include a pancake recipe in the breakfast month, because vegan pancake recipes are pretty abundant and easy to find. I like making regular pancakes from scratch as well as various flavors like banana, apple oatmeal, etc. It’s pretty easy and quick to make pancakes from scratch, but if you want them even quicker, try out Cherrybrook Kitchen’s vegan pancake and waffle mix. It really can’t get much easier, and they turn out pretty well.

 

For veganizing baked goods recipes, I usually just switch out Ener-G Egg Replacer powder for the eggs, soy or almond milk for the milk, agave for honey, and Earth Balance vegan butter for butter or margarine. Most of the time recipes can be easily veganized using these or other substitutes.

Soy or Coconut Yogurt Parfait:

Making a parfait out of soy or coconut yogurt, some defrosted frozen berries, and your favorite granola is a simple and satisfying vegan breakfast. I like to pack this up to take to work with me. I put the frozen berries in with the yogurt. They keep it cold and are mostly defrosted by the time I get to work. Keep the granola in a separate container so it doesn’t get soggy. I’ll also sometimes eat this as a dessert when I want something sweet, but don’t want to eat something more sugary like ice cream or cookies.

Bagels:

Bagels are easy to grab on the go or take with you. If you haven’t already tried Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese, it’s definitely worth a try. It can also be used in dessert recipes that call for cream cheese. The best bagels, in my opinion, come from NYC. If you live in New York or are here for a visit, I would recommend getting a bagel at Ess-a-Bagel. They have the best bagels I’ve ever had, and they also offer a variety of tofu cream cheeses including scallion, vegetable, raisin walnut, herb, and others. Another good bagel place is Russ & Daughters. It’s a small little store that was packed when I went, but they are surprisingly efficient. We were in and out really quickly. They also offer tofu cream cheese in plain, scallion, and vegetable.

Smoothies:

I’ve lost count of how many blenders I’ve broken trying to make smoothies, but they are tasty and a good way to start the day. My biggest tip is to use frozen fruit, and no ice. The frozen fruit won’t break your blender and won’t dilute the taste of the smoothie like ice will. Play with your favorite fruit or veggie combinations, add some soy or almond milk or some soy or coconut yogurt, a little peanut butter or almond butter, and throw in some vegan protein powders like hemp or soy protein for an extra boost. I would strongly advise not using pea protein. It just doesn’t taste very good, and it’s very dominant and difficult to mask.

Hot Cereals:

Oatmeal is a great staple for a vegan breakfast, but you can also branch out and try other hot cereals like cream of wheat, grits, rice, and other mixed grain cereals. Add some nuts, a little brown sugar or maple syrup, some raisins, and you have a filling and fairly healthy vegan breakfast.

Granola Bars:

If you need something quick that’s easy to take with you, a vegan granola bar is a good choice. There are two brands that I like, NuGo Organic and Pro Bar. These are also great to pack on a trip where vegan options might be limited. If you need a quick snack because you can’t find any vegan options, they’re great to have on hand.

Vegan Breakfast British Style – Beans on Toast

I had never heard of Beans on Toast until my friend Donna made it for me a few years ago. I don’t know much of the history, but from what I’ve read it’s a typical British meal that’s often served at breakfast or lunch. Essentially it’s exactly what the name implies, baked beans on toast, but there’s room to be creative by adding various spices, onions, etc. It seems baked beans are often a part of a British breakfast, which isn’t something you really find in the US.

I have to admit, Beans on Toast is one of those things that just sounds a bit odd before you try it, but it’s actually really good. It’s not a bad way for a vegan to start the day since beans offer some protein. It can be served on it’s own, or as a side, and it’s really quick and easy to prepare. I don’t know about you, but I resemble a zombie in the morning until I’ve had some coffee or tea. It’s nice to have something that’s so simple to prepare in the morning. If you’re feeling ambitious you can make your own baked beans, but canned are quick and easy.

Ingredients:

1 or 2 slices of your favorite bread
1 can of vegan baked beans (regular baked beans usually contain bacon or pork fat)
1 yellow onion
4 cloves of garlic
olive oil
garlic powder
black pepper
salt
paprika

Directions:

  • Chop the onion and mince or press the garlic. Saute them in a little olive oil.
  • Add the baked beans to the onions and garlic. Heat on medium high. I should note, traditionally the British version uses British style Heinz Beanz which are less sweet and in a more tomato-y sauce, but I use the regular maple-y American kind and it comes out well. Some people insist the British style ones are best. It seems like it’s all relative to what you grew up with.
  • Add garlic powder, black pepper, salt, and paprika to taste. You can get creative and add in other things if you like. I’ve seen some variations that include mustard or mustard powder, tabasco sauce, and even whiskey.
  • Toast the bread. Once the beans are hot throughout, spoon them over the toast.