Beautiful vegetarian food isn’t rocket science – it just takes some lovely produce, a few herbs and spices and a big bowl of creamy polenta. Healthy and gluten-free, this is a dish that borders all the seasons.
- 1 tbsp extra–virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 250 g pumpkin, cut into 2 cm pieces
- 1 tbsp picked thyme leaves, plus extra to serve
- 150 g (½ bunch) cavolo nero (see Note)
- ½ tsp chilli flakes, plus extra to serve
- salt and black pepper
- 120 g cherry tomatoes, halved
- 175 ml milk, plus 1 tbsp extra
- 50 g instant polenta
- 100 g parmesan, shaved
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 3–4 minutes or until the onion begins to soften. Add the pumpkin and thyme, cover and cook for 3–4 minutes, until the pumpkin begins to soften. Add the cavolo nero, chilli flakes and 150 ml water. Season to taste and stir well to combine. Cover and simmer for 13 minutes. Throw cherry tomatoes on top of the vegetables, cover and cook for a further 5 minutes, until the pumpkin is very tender (the cavolo nero should still have some bite).
Meanwhile, bring the milk, 175 ml water and a large pinch of salt to a simmer in a small saucepan. Whisk in polenta and cook, stirring, for 3–5 minutes until smooth. Season to taste.
Spoon polenta onto plates and top with braised vegetables. Sprinkle with parmesan shavings, extra thyme and chilli flakes.
• Cavolo nero is also called Tuscan cabbage. If unavailable, substitute with silverbeet or Swiss chard.
Photography by Benito Martin. Styling by Lynsey Fryers.
Gordon Ramsay Bread Street dinner plate from Royal Doulton. Kay Bojesen fork and spoon from Great Dane Furniture. Medium flax tapas bowl from Papaya.