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Make These Vegan Heart-Shaped Polenta Cakes with Romesco Sauce for Your Valentine

Want a cute kitchen project to make for (or with) your Valentine? These chickpea polenta hearts should do the trick.

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These cute little vegan polenta cakes are perfect for Valentine’s Day. To make this pretty, plant-based main course, protein-rich chickpea flour is made into a sheet of polenta, then cut into heart shapes for a fun presentation. Of course, you can simply cut the polenta in squares or circles if you don’t have a heart-shaped cutter, and it will still be delicious. Romesco sauce decorates the plate and brings roasted pepper flavor to the party.


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Heart-Shaped Vegan Polenta Cakes with Romesco Sauce

 

Ingredients

Vegan chickpea polenta cakes

  • 1 cup chickpea flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

Romesco sauce

  • 8 ounces jarred roasted red bell peppers, drained
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 cup toasted, sliced almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar

Preparation

Line and 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper and reserve.

In a small pot, combine the chickpea flour and salt and whisk to mix. Whisk in about half a cup of the stock, to make a thick paste, then gradually whisk in the remaining stock until smooth. Whisk in the tahini and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.

Place the pot over medium heat and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and whisk as it bubbles for a minute. Scrape into the prepared pan, then use a dampened spatula to spread to an even 6-inch square about 3/4 inch thick, and smooth the top. Let cool, then refrigerate for at least three hours, until firm.

For romesco: Drain the peppers and place on a clean kitchen towel, then pat dry. Place in a food processor bowl. In a small pot, place 1/4 cup olive oil and add the whole garlic cloves. Place over medium heat and bring to a bubble, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the garlic is tender when pierced with a knife, about 7 minutes. Let cool, then use a slotted spoon to scoop the garlic cloves into the food processor, reserving the oil. Add the almonds to the food processor and process until smooth. Scrape down and process as needed to make a very smooth puree. Add the salt, paprika, sherry vinegar and reserved olive oil and process to mix well. Scrape into a cup.

To serve, preheat the oven to 400 F. Pour the remaining oil on a sheet pan. On a cutting board, invert the pan of polenta and peel off the parchment. Use a 3-inch heart shaped cutter to cut four hearts.

Place each heart in the olive oil on the pan, then flip to coat the bottom. Place on the pan with the smooth bottom side up. Coat all the hearts. If desired, cut the scraps into pieces and coat them, too. (You can eat them for lunch tomorrow.)

Roast the polenta for 15 minutes, then turn on the broiler for a minute or two, just to brown the tops. Take out and keep warm Spread about 1/3 cup of romesco on two large salad plates, then place two polenta hearts on the sauce. Garnish with a tomato rose or parsley and serve.