Crispy Baked Polenta with Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

Ingredients For the polenta: 1 teaspoon salt 2½ cups water or broth 1 cup cornmeal 1 cup chopped onions 2 garlic cloves, minced 1 tablespoon olive oil For the crust and assembly: ½ cup walnuts ½ cup cornmeal pinch of salt 2-3 tablespoons olive oil For the mushrooms: 3 cups baby portobellos, quartered 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 large garlic clove, minced pinch of salt and pepper 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley 1 teaspoon fresh thyme splash or wine, sherry or vegetable broth For the sun dried tomato pesto: 1 garlic clove ½ cup sun dried tomatoes (not in olive oil) ½ cup toasted walnuts ½ cup fresh basil, packed ⅓ cup olive oil ¾ cup grape or cherry tomatoes 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional) ¼ teaspoon salt (more to taste) Instructions For the polenta: Bring the salt and water to a boil. Gradually add in the cornmeal and stir quickly with a whisk until the polenta begins to thicken. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring often, until the polenta tastes done (see notes). Saute the onions, garlic, salt and oil on medium heat for about 7 minutes, until soft. Stir the onion mixture into the cooked polenta. Spread the warm polenta onto a oiled baking tray or 10 in pie pan (I used a 9 x 9 in baking tray) so that the polenta is about ¾ inch thick. Spread evenly with a rubber spatula and allow to set in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly oil a baking tray. For the crust and assembly: In a blender or food processor, add the walnuts, cornmeal and salt and blend into a flour. With a table knife, cut the cool polenta into squares, rectangles or diamonds, light coat with olive oil (I used my fingers) and dredge both sides into the walnut crust mixture. Place on oiled baking tray and repeat with remaining polenta cutlets. Bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown on both sides. For the mushrooms: Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add mushrooms and saute, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for an additional 5 minutes. Add the salt, parsley, and thyme, turn up the heat and add a splash of wine, sherry or broth. Stir until most of the liquid is evaporated and remove from heat. Set aside. For the sun dried tomato pesto: In a food processor, process the garlic and walnuts. Add the remaining ingredients, except the olive oil and cherry tomatoes and process again. While the machine is on, slowly add the olive oil and then the cherry tomatoes until pesto is rather smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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