This is a little recipe that I came up with a while back for the folks over at the Herbivorous Butcher and for those of you who don’t know who or what they are, they’re the countries first ever vegan butcher shop.
I know, some of you will insist that there’s no such thing as a ‘vegan butcher shop’ and some will insist that it’s a ridiculous idea, but instead I insist to all of you that it isn’t. It’s actually quite amazing. Their products are on point, especially the cheeses, and they really do make some truly great meat substitutes.
Eating less meat overall is something I absolutely believe in when it comes to the health of our environment and our individual persons. I do eat meat and have no issues in doing so, but given the conditions that most industrialized meat is raised and the environmental side effects that it has, it’s better to look to more sustainable sources. Meat that’s been grass fed and pasture raised can actually have positive environmental impacts so it’s important that we consider some of these things when it comes to making our purchasing decisions. This meat can also be quite a bit more expensive, but that’s also not bad because for our overall health we should be eating less of it anyway. That’s not always practical for all people, trust me, I completely understand this and I can’t typically afford to approach these issues in the way I’d like, but the overall reduction in meat consumption is a great way to start.
When it comes to vegan meat substitutes, I generally don’t even try to pretend that I’m actually eating meat, but instead I treat them like they were their own ingredients because really, that’s what they are. So when it comes to developing a dish, I take their individual taste and texture profiles and build around that just like I would for anything else.
With that being said, this is a super comforting dish that also can help to put good use to the last of those seasonal tomatoes that you might have laying around. Even if you don’t have the vegan bacon, you can just use the cheese and if you haven’t tried the products from the Herbivorous Butcher yet, you really should because they really truly are delicious and I promise you that I’m not being paid to say that, although when I did originally write this recipe back in April, I was provided with the ingredients to do so. Just an FYI, but I do believe in their products and if you’re interested in the idea of vegan substitutes, definitely go an check them out because their stuff is absolutely solid.
- ½ cup ground polenta
- 3 cups vegetable stock (or water in a pinch)
- ¼ lbs Herbivorous Butcher Bacon, sliced into strips
- 1 cup Herbivorous Butcher Garlic Pepper Havarti, cubed
- 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
- ½ cup onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons water
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon diced red chili or 1 teaspoon dried chili flake (optional)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley
- In a medium sauce pan over medium high heat, bring vegetable stock (or water) to a simmer. Add in polenta and stir. Lower the heat to medium and allow mixture to cook at a light simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the polenta is smooth and creamy.
- Add the olive oil to a skillet over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook until they start to turn translucent. Add in the tomatoes and cook until they start to blister and break down, roughly 3-5 minutes.
- Add 2 tablespoons of water and tomato paste to the tomato and onion mixture. Cook until the water fully reduces and the tomato paste coats the vegetables, about 1-2 minutes.
- Add in chilies (or chili flakes) and the balsamic vinegar. Cook until the vinegar completely reduces and remove from heat, approximately 2-3 minutes.
- Once the polenta is fully cooked, add the Bacon strips and cubed Garlic Pepper Havarti and stir until the cheese is fully melted into the polenta and the bacon is just cooked through, about 1-2 minutes.
- To serve, spoon the polenta into a bowl and top with the tomato jam. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and enjoy!