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  • Sarah Page

Vegan Polenta with Beans, Spinach & Puttanesca Sauce

While sheltering-in-place in San Francisco I've discovered some tasty new vegan meals that are easy to make. My husband is pescatarian and we usually end up eating several vegan or vegetarian meals each week. This recipe is a meal I've been making for several years and is based on a delicious side-dish we had at the old Shades restaurant in Ocean Beach, San Diego. I purchase all the ingredients in this recipe from Trader Joe's.

Makes 2 servings


1 18 oz. package of polenta

Olive oil (about 2 TBSP)

Garlic powder (about 1 TBSP)

4 or 5 cloves garlic

1 – 1.5 cup cherry or grape tomatoes

1.5 TBSP capers

14 kalamata olives

1 15.5 oz. can black or kidney beans

1 6 oz. package baby spinach

Optional non-vegan addition: Parmesan cheese to taste

1) Slice polenta in discs about ½ inch wide and place in a glass baking dish, drizzle olive oil and sprinkle garlic powder over polenta slices. Bake in oven at 350 until slightly toasted or golden.

2) Peel garlic.

Do you know about removing the heart of the garlic if it is green? I learned this from a German woman when we were both volunteering on an organic farm in the mountains of Costa Rica. She taught me that the green part is bitter. To remove it, slice a clove of garlic sideways. Pop out the green part (if there is any) and discard it.

3) Heat about 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large frying pan over low-med heat.

4) Add pressed or finely chopped garlic to frying pan. You want the garlic to sizzle and warm, but not get toasted or brown so adjust placement of the garlic and the level of heat as needed.

5) Rinse about 1 – 1.5 cups of grape or cherry tomatoes and add them to the frying pan once the garlic is warmed.

6) Add about 1.5 tablespoons of capers and some juice from the capers jar to frying pan.

7) Add about 14 olives and some olive juice to frying pan.

8) Rinse beans in can and then add beans to frying pan.

9) Put the fresh spinach over everything in the frying pan and add a lid. Spinach will mostly steam cook. Turn heat up to medium depending on how fast you want the spinach to cook.

Once everything is completely cooked, and the spinach leaves are tender, assemble each meal by placing half the polenta in a large bowl or on a plate, then topping it with about half of the mixture from the frying pan.

Optional: add grated parmesan cheese to top the finished polenta meal.

Note: the same “puttanesca sauce” without the beans and spinach is great with any Italian style pasta or quinoa dish and pairs well with Italian veggie sausage.

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