I have been vegetarian since I was 13 years old. I’ve always eaten eggs and dairy with brief moments of being a vegan. As I got older I am more interested in becoming a vegan as it has become more accessible and more of a health concern for me. My egg eating has become a concern for me with my classroom and my digestion. So I’m giving veganism another shot.
I’m really enjoying all of the new vegan restaurants in my town and vegan options that are out there including vegan donuts. My oldest son and I stop at Whole Foods and grab one every Sunday on the way home from swim class. I have switched out the margarine, butter, creamer’s for my coffee, to vegan options. My youngest son likes the chocolate almond milk, however my oldest son only likes the chocolate soy milk. They are both lacto-ovo vegetarians , however with me introducing some dairy free options I’m hoping that their colds will be easier to manage. They say that cutting back on dairy will loosen up any mucus causing illnesses. With both of my boys in daycare we’ve had a lot of colds this year.
My husband is a flexitarian. He still eats meat and fish from time to time, however he does enjoy my vegan and vegetarian options. As the cook in the house I only prepare vegan or vegetarian food so he only eats vegan or vegetarian food 75% to 80% of the time.
So one of the challenges lately is that he wanted something different for Shabbat dinner. I had been cooking a lot of quiches prior to going vegan, with my new dietary restrictions comes new recipes and challenges. Last week I looked on YouTube for some good ideas on how to cook an Israeli food favorite: Shakshuka vegan style. I came across a video featuring an actual Israeli woman named or Ori Shavit who is a vegan activist and cook in Israel. She uses sweet corn meal to replace the eggs in the shop sugar. She mentions that polenta is made from a technique that she’s using. You can watch the video here: https://youtu.be/jrfiaIizzns. With it being Shabbat, for which I cook several dishes and being short on time I decide to go straight to the polenta.
I have never been a fan of polenta, I never really knew so much how to use it. After watching a few episodes of Rachael Ray, however I did learn that it should be creamy and it can even be cheesy tasting! So I took a store brand Trader Joe’s log of polenta, crumbled it in my hands, put in a pot with some coconut milk and nutritional yeast cooked until it became a grits-like consistency. It was delicious on its own. I was so pleased with how it came out. It was so easy and quick to put together as well!
The final test came at the dinner table. I was already really happy with how the shocks you collect, have a tomato sauce tasted, but the final decision had to come to my Israeli husband. He absolutely loved it and we even had the leftovers last night!
4 large-medium sized heirloom tomatoes (I used red mainly, but also green and yellow)
1 log of store bought polenta
1 tbsp. nutritional yeast
1 tbsp. Smoked Paprika
1 small can of tomato paste
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 orange and 1 red bell pepper, washed and diced
1/2 c. coconut milk
1 c. water
2 spring onions
7 white mushrooms, chopped
1 tbsp. Olive Oil
1 chili pepper-use only the bottom, sweeter half and chop
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat olive oil in a pan over med-high heat. Add garlic, peppers, and mushrooms to sauté until softened. Chop tomatoes into medium sized cubes and add to the pan along with water, paprika, and tomato paste. Lower the heat to simmer, partly covered on medium heat. Allow the tomato’s to soften, the water to evaporate, and sauce to thicken until there are no more bubbles around the edge of the pan.
While that is happening, into a saucepot crumble your log of store-bought polenta. Add your half a cup of coconut oil and tablespoon of nutritional yeast. Cook on medium high, using a potato masher to further mash the polenta and coconut milk together into a thickened, grits- like consistency
Once there are no longer any bubbles in your tomato sauce, spoon the polenta into the tomato sauce in oval shapes around the pan. It should be mimicking what an egg would look like if you were using eggs. One of the key components to Shakshuka is it’s red and yellow look. You can eat it with pieces of sliced up bread, warmed pita, Challah, or on its own. It’s a delicious and warm salad entrée.