Menu Ideas

Griddled Polenta Cakes with Goat Cheese + Raw Kale Salad

January 12, 2014

We're celebrating Meatless Mondays with balanced, delicious meal plans. We hope you'll join us -- whether you're vegetarian all the time or just here and there. 

Today: A dinner inspired by the principle that a little bit of everything is better than a lot of one thing.


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You've probably had this experience: You're browsing the menu at a restaurant and you realize that only the starters are vegetarian-friendly. Don't be upset -- you've just struck dinner gold. While your friends carve away at a piece of chicken or a cut of steak, you will happily flit between between soup, salad, and, if you're lucky, flatbread

Tonight's menu is inspired by the principle that sometimes a little bit of everything is better than a lot of one thing. This meal may look like two appetizers, but it has everything you need: You'll get your fix of vegetables from a big kale salad (it's 2014 and kale's not going anywhere); starch from golden polenta cakes; and, because this is dinner and you're not joking around, there's also protein packed into lentils and tangy goat cheese. 

The Menu

Take advantage of our handy grocery list and game plan, or click the recipe photos or titles to see (and save and print) the full recipes.

Griddled Polenta Cakes with Caramelized Onions, Goat Cheese, and Honey by arielleclementine

Raw Kale Salad with Lentils and Sweet Apricot Vinaigrette
by Gena Hamshaw

The Grocery List

Serves 6, with leftover polenta cakes

1 cup lentils 
2 cups whole milk
1 cup polenta
1 yellow onion
1/4 cup apricot preserves (or any fruit preserves you have)
1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 bunches kale
1 head red cabbage
2 ounces of goat cheese

It's likely that you already have salt, butter, olive oil, and lemon juice in your kitchen. If not, add those to the list, too.

The Plan

1. Place the lentils in a small saucepan and cover with 3 to 4 inches of water. Bring to a boil, add a pinch of salt, then let the lentils simmer for 20 to 25 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, bring the milk to a boil with 2 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt. Slowly whisk in the polenta, then turn the heat to low and whisk for 5 minutes, until the polenta is smooth and creamy. Spread into a 9- by 9-inch baking dish and set aside to cool.

3. Add 1 tablespoon of butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a skillet over medium-low heat. Sauté the yellow onion, sliced, until soft, golden, and caramelized, about 20 to 25 minutes. Season with salt as it cooks.

4. While the onions and lentils are cooking, pan-fry the polenta: Cut it into 3-inch squares, then cook in 1 tablespoon of olive oil for about 2 minutes on each side, until slightly browned and crusty.

5. Make the salad for the dressing. Whisk together 1/4 cup of olive oil, preserves, apple cider vinegar, 1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and a pinch of pepper. 

6. Remove the ribs and stems from the kale and chop it finely. Massage it in a large mixing bowl with 6 tablespoons of the dressing until it has a slightly wilted texture.

7. Drain the lentils and add them to kale, along with 1 cup of the red cabbage, shredded. Add another 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette.

8. Finish the polenta cakes by topping them with caramelized onions, crumbled goat cheese, and a drizzle of honey. Bon appétit! 

Photos by Sarah Shatz and James Ransom

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Kate January 14, 2014
Could not be more excited for these! Thanks for sharing — polenta cakes will definitely find their way to my table this week :D
Lori G. January 13, 2014
This was amazing! I made the polenta with one can of coconut milk (light) and the rest water so that it was vegan. It was so delicious! I am obsessed with this salad dressing!
Sarah J. January 13, 2014
So glad you liked it, Lori! And what a great way to make the polenta vegan.
marija January 12, 2014
made this polenta and goats cheese in the past a few times and loved it, so simple, super filling and tasty! the only trick was in figuring out exactly how long to cook polenta
Sarah J. January 12, 2014
Did you discover any tricks for figuring out the perfect amount of time?
marija January 12, 2014
well not sure if perfect amount of time for everyone, but it took me a couple (or a few?) minutes longer then per recipe, sorry should have made notes...also make sure you let it cool down properly and really firm up. in fact I've often made it well before the meal i.e. couple of hours, left in the fridge and then just thrown in the pan once we're pretty much ready to eat