A straightforward and healthy Vegan Dish! Although I like to create my dishes occasionally, I enjoy trying out recipes created by well-known chefs and adding my Caribbean twist and flavor. I recently created my version of a recipe created by renowned Chef Tai Ronnen at The Wynn Las Vegas, which was a great challenge.
Today I am happy to share an inspired dish from a specialty vegan menu created by Chef Tai Ronnen. Chef Tai Ronen for those who are not familiar is one of the most renowned celebrity vegetarian Chefs who has worked for many celebrities in Hollywood including Oprah and Ellen DeGeneres, catered the first vegan dinner at the U.S. Senate and worked at many vegan restaurants such as Candle 79 in NYC, and Madeleine Bistro in LA.
Polenta-Mushroom Cake served with Lentil Ragout and Sweet Pea Sauce inspired me to create Polenta Herbed Cake served with Lentil Ragout, Sautéed Shiitake Mushrooms, and Butter Bean Puree. Being across the country and only having the ability to dine virtually is an experience we all know too well. So why not bring Vegas home!
Selecting a dish that would remind me of home, Haiti, was a hard choice. I opted for the Polenta-Mushroom Cake with Lentil Ragout and Sweet Pea Sauce because Polenta is one of the staple dishes in Haiti. In the Haitian Culture grains and beans are widely consumed. Although lentils and Shiitake mushrooms are part of the culture, mixing other ingredients would only mean a healthy and hearty meal.
Being a foodie has taught me to be more adventurous and fearless of trying new things, new ideas. One other aspect of the Haitian Culture is, we cook a lot and make several dishes for one sitting. It is almost like eating a five-course meal at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Chef Tai Ronnen Polenta recipe is a perfect selection to slowly start incorporating more vegan meals and less meat into my daily diet, and hopefully, my family will follow without major complaints – keeping my fingers crossed.
Polenta Herbed Cake is similar to making a typical Haitian Polenta except of the way it is served. The polenta is cooked with herbs such as fresh parsley, chives, scallion, thyme and garlic, a typical Haitian dish. A Bean puree another typical dish of Haiti served with grains is made with Butter Beans, smoother and creamier than white beans sauce, another classic dish. Turning to another part of the world with my own creation of Lentil Ragout to spice things up with bold flavors from fresh parsley, thyme, shallots, sweet red peppers and garlic, a delightful blend of earthy flavors, and to finish, Sautéed Shiitake Mushrooms cooked in white wine and herbs to replace the usual meat dish at dinner.
These were the selections provided.
I created a meal that may look totally altered, but most of the main ingredients are incorporated and served a bit different because of culture differences. Butter Bean Puree has replaced the Sweet Pea Sauce because we usually don’t eat polenta with sweet pea sauce. Sweet Pea Sauce or Puree is mostly served with white rice. Because in the Haitian culture we typically serve bean puree separate from the grains, I chose to do the same instead of plating each dish on one plate and one on top of the other. The Polenta sitting on a bed of lentils is ideal because all the flavors blended to create a comfort meal that reminds me of home. To complete, the bean puree is served separately and garnished with marinated red peppers
Here is the choice of Glad to be sharing my inspired vegan meal, Polenta Herbed Cake served with Ragout Lentils, Sautéed Shiitake Mushrooms and Butter Bean Puree, an inspiration from Chef Tai Ronnen, Polenta-Mushroom Cake served with Lentil Ragout and Sweet Pea Sauce.
For the Butter Bean Puree
- 1 cup of dried butter beans
- 5 cups water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 garlic cloves - chopped finely
- 1 scallion or green onion - chopped
- 2 whole cloves
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 sprig of thyme
- 1 full sprig of parsley
- Salt and pepper to taste
- dash of red pepper flakes
- pinch of white sugar
For the Polenta Herbed Cakes
- Herbed Polenta
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1 ½ teaspoon olive oil
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1 scallion finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon fresh parsley finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves only
- 4 ½ cup water
- Salt to taste
- Coconut oil
For the Lentil Ragout
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ cup shallots chopped small
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1/2 cup lentils
- 1 celery stalk or ¼ cup celery, cut in small cubes
- ¼ cup mini red peppers in in small cubes
- ½ cup carrots diced very small
- 1 tablespoon parsley chopped finely
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 thyme sprig
- 1 cup water or vegetable broth
For the Sautéed Shiitake Mushroom
- 5 ounces shiitake mushroom sliced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 garlic minced
- ½ tablespoon parsley finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons dry white wine
- Salt and black pepper to taste
For the Bean Puree
- Sort, rinse and drain beans. Set aside
- In a large stockpot, add oil garlic, scallion and cloves. Cook for about 2 minutes turning occasionally on low heat. Add the cleaned beans and about 5 of water. Cover ajar and bring to a boil over medium heat. If you need to add more water, add 1 cup of hot water while cooking. Cook beans until fully cooked but not overcooked, about 1 hour 15 minutes or longer depending on the beans. Let beans cool for a few minutes before adding to blender to blend to a smooth mixture. Strain bean puree and set aside. Discard beans residue.
- In a stockpot, add butter, parsley, thyme, and red pepper flakes. Sautee for 1 minute and add reserved beans. Gently stir to blend. Add bean puree, season with salt and pepper to taste and let cook for about 5 - 7 minutes uncovered, under medium to low heat until the texture is a bit thicker and creamy like. Scrape bottom of pot regularly to avoid sticking. In the last few minutes of cooking, add pepper flakes and sugar and adjust seasoning. When the puree is at the consistency you want, remove and serve.
For the Polenta Cakes
- In a saucepan under low heat, add oil, garlic, scallion, parsley, and thyme. Let spices slightly fry in the oil but do not let them burn. Add water and salt to taste. Once the water starts to boil, add cornmeal and stir to incorporate. Bring to a boil and stir cornmeal to blend with liquid. Cook cornmeal for about 25 to 30 minutes while stirring often until fully cooked. Remove from heat and pour content into an 8” square glass-baking dish preferably. Let completely cool and refrigerate for at last 2 hours or overnight.
- To make cakes, remove dish from refrigerator and make sure the edges of the polenta can easily be lifted.
- With a cookie cutter measuring about 4 inches, makes 4 round cakes, remove and set aside on a plate. In a skillet coated with coconut oil, add cakes and pan fry until each side has a nice shiny and golden color. Remove and set aside.
For the Lentil Ragout
- In a saucepan over medium heat, heat oil and cook shallots and garlic together for 2 -3 minutes. Add lentils, broth or water, parsley, oregano, thyme, celery, carrot, salt and pepper, to saucepan. Simmer 20 – 30 minutes until lentils are fully cooked and liquid has almost evaporated.
For the Sautee Shiitake Mushroom
- Heat oil over medium heat in a pan. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add sliced mushrooms, stir to coat, and cook for about 5 minutes. Drizzle dry white wine onto the mushrooms. Sprinkle salt and black pepper. Continue cooking over low to medium heat for about 3 - 5 minutes or until desired doneness is achieved. Remove from pan and serve.
- To plate, add lentils first to plate and place polenta cake in the middle and top with mushrooms. Serve bean puree on the side if preferred