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Cat Cora's Polenta with Swiss Chard and Candied Pumpkin Seeds

Polenta with a different twist

Cat Cora

Serves 16


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large white onion, sliced thin
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1 pound Swiss chard, thick stems and ribs removed, leaves cut crosswise into 1/2 -inch-wide strips
3-1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup polenta (coarse cornmeal) or yellow cornmeal
2 cups coarsely grated soy mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup oil-packed sundried tomatoes, cut into slivers

Candied Pumpkin Seeds

4 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup hulled raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons agave, rice or maple syrup 


Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C). Lightly oil a 2-quart glass baking dish. Heat the oil in a heavy, large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in the garlic and crushed red pepper, then the chard; cover and cook until the chard is tender, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Uncover; stir until any excess liquid in the skillet evaporates. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, bring 3-1/2 cups vegetable stock and salt to a boil in a heavy, large saucepan. Gradually stir the polenta into the boiling water. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until the polenta is very thick, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

Spread half of the polenta mixture in the baking dish. Spread half of the chard mixture over the polenta. Sprinkle with half of the soy mozzarella on top. Repeat layering with remaining polenta, chard and cheese. Bake until puffed and brown on top, about 45 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes, slice into small squares, top with the candied pumpkin seeds and a sliver of oil-packed sun-dried tomato.

Candied Pumpkin Seeds

In a medium saute pan, heat the olive oil, stir in the pumpkin seeds along with all the spices and stir constantly until then seeds are lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in the syrup and continue stirring for 1 minute.

Remove from heat and spread in a single layer on a plate. Allow the seeds to cool until no longer sticky, approximately 15 minutes.

Sprinkle the candied seeds on top of the polenta.

Recipe courtesy of Cat Cora, first female Iron Chef America.

For even more vegetarian recipes, check out VegRecipes.org.

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