Meatless Monday: Butternut squash polenta

I love a good hamburger as much as the next girl but there are so many reasons to eat less meat. Producing meat is pretty hard on the environment and as food prices increase (especially up here in Canada), it’s becoming less affordable.

I’m not suggesting you go full-on veg, but devoting even one night a  week to eating meat-free can make a difference. This butternut squash polenta is a great example of how meatless meals can be filling without the usual culprits like tofu and beans.

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If you’ve never tried it, you’ll be amazed by how easy it is to make polenta. It’s very versatile and forgiving. And when you’re not having a “Meatless Monday” it’s the perfect vessel for a hearty beef ragout.

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For now, let’s stick with the butternut squash version. This recipe serves 4.

You’ll need:

  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 1.5 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 pinch cumin
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 cups chopped kale
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 2 cups stock (vegetable, or chicken if you feel like cheating)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 tsbp butter
  • 1/4 cup cream (or more milk if you’re keeping it light)
  • 1/3 cup goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 º F. Peel your squash and cut it into 1cm (1/2″) cubes. Toss the cubes in 1 tbsp of the cooking oil of your choice, cumin, salt and pepper. Roast them until brown and tender, about 25 minutes.
  2. When there are about 10 minutes left on the squash, combine your stock and milk and bring them to a gentle simmer in a large pot. Whisk in the polenta. Stir until it begins to thicken- this will come together quickly. Turn down the heat and allow the polenta to cook for about 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat your remaining oil in a skillet on medium and toss in the chopped kale. The pieces should be bite-sized. Turn the heat to low, season with salt and pepper and toss occasionally.
  4. Once your polenta has cooked for a few minutes, add the butter and cream and season to your liking with salt. If the polenta is too thick, you can loosen it by whisking in a bit of warm water.
  5. Ladle a large scoop of polenta onto a plate or shallow bowl and create a hollow in the centre using the back of the ladle. Spoon on 1/4 of the kale and squash. Top with 1tbsp of crumbled goat cheese, 1 tbsp of pepitas and 1tbsp of dried cranberries.

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Do you have a favourite meat-free meal? Share yours in the comments below!