Recipe: Vegan Bolognese with Creamy Polenta

After years growing up on Quorn spag bol, I’ve spent a long time in search of something that hits a nostalgic spot without being the same old boring thing. And even though it’s rare I use any meat-replacement product these days, pairing a chunky vegan bolognese with soft, creamy polenta has managed to do just that. For those inevitable leftovers, I like to serve up warmed bolognese with sliced avocado on toast, often with a delectably runny egg.

Serves 4

For the chilli

– ½ tbsp olive oil

– 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped

– 2 large cloves of garlic, crushed

– 1 courgette, chopped

– 1 large bell pepper, chopped (red, yellow or orange will do)

– 200g soy mince (Morrisons and Tesco offer vegan own-brand alternatives to Quorn)

– 1 can of chopped tomatoes

– 1 tbsp tomato puree

– half a fresh lemon, juiced

– 1 tsp sugar

– sea salt and black pepper

– avocado to serve (optional)

For the polenta

– 150ml semi-skimmed cow’s or soya milk

– ½ tsp salt

– 150g coarse cornmeal

– 50g butter or dairy-free margarine (optional)

– 25g grated parmesan (optional)

image011) Take a large frying pan, and sauté your onion and garlic in the olive oil – I like to use a pinch of table salt to help sweat them out. Once the onions are soft and slipper, add the chopped courgettes and pepper, stirring occasionally until the courgettes become browned on the edges.

2) Add in the soya mince (frozen or chilled is fine, it’ll just take a little longer for the former to cook through), and mix into the vegetables until evenly distributed. Pour in the chopped tomatoes. Swill the can with a little cold water to wash sauce of its inside walls and empty into the pan. Stir in the lemon juice, sugar and tomato puree.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover. Don’t forget to turn the hob off and keep the bolognese to one side if it is ready before your polenta is done.

3) Take a large saucepan and fill it with the milk, a pinch of salt, and 600ml water. When it comes to the boil, add the polenta slowly while you whisk continuously. Stir for a minute or two until it thickens.

4) Turn the heat all the way down to low and stir briskly every 4-5 minutes to prevent the polenta from sticking to the pan. After about half an hour, the polenta should begin to come away from the sides by itself. Stir in the butter and cheese, if using.

5) Serve the polenta and bolognese together, topping with chopped avocado if you please.

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