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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Vegas Vegan Recipe: Polenta Cake with Mushroom Ragout and Sweet Pea Sauce

Starting at the ripe old age of 7, my grandparents began taking me to Vegas every year as a little family vacation.  Yes, Vegas. At seven.  Now before you get all confused and wonder what the heck a 7 year-old could do in Vegas, let me tell you, I did a lot! In fact, I am actually quite thankful that I went to Vegas as a youngin' because it allowed me to experience all that there is to do and eat!

From endless buffets to gourmet restaurants, and from magic shows to volcano's erupting, Vegas creates an amazing new world for all to enjoy! Now, although casinos, cocktails, pool parties, and all you can eat buffets may be the first things that come to mind when you hear the word "Vegas", Vegas has grown beyond that, with countless activities for kids, and an array of restaurants that have a little something for everyone - and one of those restaurants is Tableau at the Wynn Resort.

Tableau offers a vegan menu with several delicious options, that when I was asked to bring Vegas into my own kitchen by recreating one of their dishes, I was so torn on which dish to make! Check out the menu below to see all of the deliciousness that they offer:

This recipe has three separate parts, and all items can be made ahead of time, especially the polenta! This meal will look so beautiful and make your mouth water.  Oh, and your family will love you for bringing Vegas to them!

Polenta Cake with Mushroom Ragout and Sweet Pea Sauce

For the Polenta:
-3 cups water
-Salt for seasoning
-Thyme for seasoning 
-1 cup coarse polenta
-1/4 cup mascarpone 
-2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
-Olive oil for cooking/crisping

For the Mushroom Ragout:
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-1 large onion, chopped
-2 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 to 1 /2 teaspoons)
-1 pound mushrooms (can use cremini, shiitake, white button, or use a blend)
-Salt and pepper to taste
-Sprinkle of thyme or a sprig of fresh thyme 
-1/2 cup white wine 
-1 cup chicken broth  
-1/3 cup heavy cream 
-1/4 cup parsley, chopped
-1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

For the Sweet Pea Sauce:
-Approx. 1 1/2 cups of sweet peas (or one 12oz bag)
-1/2 cup chicken broth
-1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
-Salt and pepper to taste

For the polenta, place the water, salt and thyme in a medium to large skillet (thyme is used in this recipe to add flavor and pairs well with the mushrooms).  Make sure you put in at least a teaspoon of salt to start, but you may need more later, as the polenta can soak up a lot of the flavor! 

Once the water comes to a boil, whisk in the cup of polenta and continue to whisk until it is all incorporated.  Then, switch to a wooden spoon and stir every couple of minutes so that the polenta does not stick to the pan.  You will need to cook the polenta for about 20 - 30 minutes, or until it no longer tastes mealy and is very thick.  Throughout the cooking process, be sure to taste test the polenta to see if you need to add more salt or if it is still mealy.  You may need to add in a little more water if it is still too mealy, and continue to cook.   

Once the polenta is to your liking and tastes smooth, lightly grease an 8x8 or 7x7 dish, and pour the polenta into the dish.  Smooth out the top, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate. 

While the polenta is setting, prepare your mushroom ragout.  Heat a skillet on medium-high heat with the olive oil, and saute the onions and garlic for a few minutes.  Toss in the mushrooms and season with salt, pepper, and thyme.  Cook for a few minutes and allow the mushrooms to "sweat." Add in the wine and cook until the wine reduces.  Once the wine has reduced, turn the heat down to a simmer and add the chicken broth and cook until it has reduced to about half (about 20 minutes).  After the chicken broth has reduced down, stir in the heavy cream, Parmesan cheese, and parsley.  Remove from heat and set aside. 

To prepare your sweet pea sauce, heat a skillet (you can use the same one you used to make the polenta), and pour in the peas and chicken broth.  Heat until the chicken broth begins to boil and then transfer the peas and broth to a food processor or blender.  Season with a little salt and pepper, add the mascarpone, and then blend until all of the ingredients are combined and you have a nice creamy pea sauce. Set aside. 

Remove the polenta from the fridge and cut into desired shapes.  To get the circles, I used a biscuit cutter, but you can cut into squares, triangles, etc.  Heat a skillet with a little oil, and cook the polenta until they are lightly golden on each side (about 2 minutes per side).  This helps to give the polenta a little crisp, but you can skip this step all together if you prefer.  Just make sure you warm your polenta cakes if they have cooled too much in the fridge. 

To serve, pour a little pea sauce on a plate, place a polenta cake on top of the sauce, and then top the cake with a scoop of the mushroom ragout.  You can add a little more sweet pea sauce on top if desired.  No matter how you decide to plate your creation, have fun, dig in, and enjoy!

To find more recipe creations from Vegas, use and search the hashtag #myvegasrecipe to see what others are cooking up!

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