These Chilli Corn & Broccoli Polenta Cakes look very impressive, and yet are so simple to make. They also fit very neatly into the bracket of 'comfort food', especially smothered in some kind of vegan cheesy sauce. However, at the same time, they're actually pretty healthy.
They just about have it all. Packed full of that crucifer much-loved by vegans, broccoli (yes, I said CRUCIFER, not Lucifer!), which provides us with lots of calcium, and low in fat, you can't say a lot bad about them. And what I epsecially love about these polenta cakes is that they can be used in many ways.
One of my favourite ways of eating them is to sit the cakes individually inside a wide bowl of soup, especially a green one like pea, and this is a way to avoid having bread with soup if you need a gluten-free recipe. Also, it is really good for dinner parties as it looks very gourmet without you needing to do that much. I made up a big batch the other night, and had a couple in soup the next day for lunch.
But they are also good as a replacement for the potato/starchy part of a meal - so if you're having some seitan smothered in sauce or a bean loaf or whatever, these would make an excellent accompaniment.
To make up this recipe, have your broccoli chopped into really small pieces, using the stalks too, but make the broccoli as small as you can get without slicing your fingertips off (this is a vegan recipe, after all!).
If you are a real wuss, then reduce the chilli flakes by half a tablespoon, but while this amount sounds like a lot, bear in mind that there is a a large amount of polenta and veg here, so it does manage to take the edge of the heat. Go on, be a devil.
Broccoli & Chilli Corn Polenta Cakes
Makes 14 cakes (muffin pan size)
350g / 4 cups broccoli, cut into teeny tiny pieces
150g / 1 cup polenta
100g / ¾ cup frozen sweetcorn
1 litre / 5 cups vegetable broth
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp chilli flakes
¼ tsp salt (add more or less, depending on how salty your broth is!)
1. Bring your broth to the boil in a good-sized saucepan and pour in the polenta slowly while stirring all the time so it doesn't clump into lumps.
2. Turn the pan down to a simmer, then add the broccoli and frozen sweetcorn. Mix in well then add the olive oil and chilli flakes and stir. Cover the pan (this can bubble and spit a bit!).
3. Cook for about 15 minutes and stir the polenta mixture frequently. While it is cooking, get your muffin pan ready (and a couple of single silicone cases or another muffin pan) by brushing lightly with oil.
4. After around 15 minutes, turn the heat off then let the polenta sit for about 10 minutes. Stir, then spoon into the muffin pan holes.
5. Scrape across each cakes at the top with a knife to even out (and push the excess along into the next hole) – this ensures the polenta cakes are smooth at the sides, and filling their cases properly. Leave aside to set for about one hour.
6. Run a sharp knife gently around the edges of the polenta cakes, then turn them out of the pan. At this stage, if you want to freeze some for later, you can do so.
7. To prepare for eating – grill (broil, if you're in the US!) the cakes for about 10 minutes under a medium grill until browned on the top, then serve, whichever way you like them!