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Food, Lifestyle, Uncategorized, Vegetarian Cooking for Carnivores


Portobello topped polenta with stuffed tomato & broccoli.

Portobello topped polenta with stuffed tomato & broccoli.

My good friend actress, writer, and forensic psychologist, Dr. Cynthia Lea Clark, came to me with a dilemma: what to serve at a dinner party with mixed guests (vegetarians and carnivores).  I suggested this portobello topped polenta dish with stuffed tomatoes as a side dish.  All the parts can be made ahead of time and then assembled just before dinner time.  I don’t know about you, but I turn into crazy woman the hour before people arrive.  Being able to prepare most of the dinner beforehand makes me (and my husband) very happy.


1 cup cornmeal

3 cups water

1 tsp salt

3 portobello mushrooms

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 T sesame seed oil

1 T brown sugar

6 to 7 cups torn fresh spinach (wash thoroughly!)

1 T olive oil

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper


Early in the day (or even the day before) make the polenta.  Bring the water & salt to a full boil.  Have a potato masher close at hand. Sprinkle in the cornmeal slowly, stirring constantly.  If lumps form, break them up with the potato masher.  Once all the cornmeal in poured in, keep stirring until the mixture becomes thickened – about 10 minutes.  Remove the saucepan from the burner & let cool a few minutes. Line a mold with waxed paper that goes up the sides & beyond – I use an 8″ X 8″ pyrex. Pour the hot cornmeal into the mold and smooth the top as well as you can.  Refrigerate.

For the spinach, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or skillet with the cayenne pepper.  Dump in the spinach and saute until it’s wilted. Set aside.

In a flat bottomed container, such as a casserole dish, mix together the soy sauce, sesame seed oil, and brown sugar.  Thoroughly clean the mushrooms. Remove & discard the stems.  Place the mushrooms in the marinade and let sit at least half an hour, turning now & then.  Slice the mushrooms.  In a saucepan, pour about a tablespoon of the marinade and add the mushrooms.  Saute for a few minutes.

To assemble:  Gripping the waxed paper, remove the polenta from the mold.  Slice into blocks.  Melt a little butter on a cookie sheet & dip the top & bottom of the polenta into it.  Broil a few minutes until it browns, then turn them over & brown the other side.  Top each polenta with the spinach and then the mushrooms.



4 large tomatoes

1 T olive oil

6 T onions, chopped

2 garlic cloves, pressed

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/4 tsp dried basil

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

1 bay leaf

1 tsp salt

4 T seasoned bread crumbs

1/2 cup shredded romano cheese

Slice off half an inch from the BOTTOM (not the stem end) of the tomato – this makes a sturdier base for the Stuffed Tomatoes.  Scoop out the pulp, saving the meatier part, discarding the liquidy, seedy part.  Chop the pulp and bottom slices and set aside.  Turn tomatoes upside down to drain.  In a saucepan heat oil and saute the onion, garlic, and bay leaf for a couple of minutes.  Add spices & saute another minute.  Add the pulp & saute another minute.  Turn off heat & remove the bay leaf.  Add the bread crumbs and all but 3 T of the cheese.  Stuff this mixture into the tomatoes. Top with remaining cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes, until top is browned.

About vegetariancookingforcarnivores

I grew up in a typical meat & potatoes house. When I became a vegetarian, I put aside the delicious meat recipes I was using in favor of omelettes, rice & beans, and salads. Then I found the world of imitation products and began incorporating them into my old recipes. You're more likely to remain a vegetarian if you don't feel like you're sacrificing. With the right product in the right recipe, you can once again enjoy 'meat' recipes.



  1. Pingback: Mediterranean veg with seedy mamaliga (polenta) | Cheap, easy, delicious - October 2, 2013

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