This 30-minute vegan burst cherry tomato polenta is bound to become a weeknight staple. Rich cashew cream is woven through hot polenta. Then, the polenta is served generously topped with burst garlic-herb cherry tomatoes.
This time of year, I crave recipes that teeter between seasons. Elements of warmth and comfort balanced by bright flavors and colors.
This dish embodies that sentiment completely.
Spoonfuls of warm, creamy polenta topped with tangy, red-hot-hued burst cherry tomatoes.
Rich and comforting balanced by bright and zesty.
As we lean further into spring, I find myself craving more and more time outside. Time to walk, to sit, to ponder… even time to rake the yard (suburban life has truly taken hold).
And the more time I spend outside, the less time I want to spend inside fussing over the stove at the end of a long day. Which is why this dish is so perfect. It pulls together in a swift 30 minutes and reheats like a dream. It’s a breeze whether you’re making it the night-of or tucking into leftovers after a fast 5-minute reheat.
To whip together this simple vegan meal, you’ll start by making the polenta. Bring several cups of salted water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, very slowly whisk in one cup of polenta. The key to smooth polenta is adding slowly and whisking vigorously.
Continue whisking for another minute or two after all the polenta is added. Then, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until thickened.
Once the polenta is ready, stir in a generous pour of cashew cream (you’ll prepare this in advance by blending together raw cashews and filtered water until completely smooth).
The cashew cream adds a luxurious richness to the polenta and softens its golden hue to a pale, buttery yellow.
If you’re up for multitasking, I recommend making the burst tomatoes while the polenta simmers. If you’re not, you can wait to prepare them and simply reheat the polenta before serving.
Either way, to make the burst tomatoes, begin by heating a bit of olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add minced garlic, dried basil, dried oregano, and dried parsley. Cook for a minute, or until fragrant. Then, add four cups grape tomatoes (or use tricolor or heirloom for an exceptionally pretty finished dish) and a bit of sea salt.
Cook the tomatoes for 6 to 10 minutes, or until they burst open and release their juices, nudging them around on occasion to prevent scorching.
Once the tomatoes are ready, spoon them over the warm polenta.
I like to finish this dish with finely chopped basil and a sprinkle of vegan parmesan.
A few slices of crusty Italian bread are also a welcomed addition…
Burst Cherry Tomato Polenta
- 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight (unless using a high-speed blender)
- 3 1/2 cups filtered water, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup polenta
Burst Cherry Tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed, peeled, and roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- 4 cups heirloom cherry tomatoes or standard cherry tomatoes (2 pints)
- Sea salt, to taste
- Fresh basil, very thinly sliced
- Vegan Parmesan
For the Creamy Polenta
- Add the cashews and 1/2 cup of the filtered water to a blender, and blend on high until completely smooth. Set aside.
- Bring the remaining 3 cups water and the salt to a boil in a large saucepan. While whisking, very slowly add in the polenta. Make sure you add just a little bit at a time while quickly whisking, otherwise you'll end up with clumps.
- Once all of the polenta is added, continue whisking for 1 to 2 minutes to smooth out any clumps. Reduce the heat to low and let the polenta simmer for 12 to 15 minutes, whisking every few minutes to prevent sticking.
- Once the polenta is cooked to desired texture, remove from the heat and whisk in the cashew cream. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt if desired (I usually add another 1/2 teaspoon of salt).
For the Burst Cherry Tomatoes
- While the polenta is simmering, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until it just begins to thin out and coat the pan.
- Add the garlic, oregano, basil, parsley, and red pepper flakes (if desired) and sauté until fragrant, approximately 1 minute.
- Add the cherry tomatoes and sea salt, increase heat to medium-high, and cook for 6 to 10 minutes or until the tomatoes burst open and develop a light golden-brown hue at their edges.
- As they cook, use a large wooden spoon to occasionally nudge them around the pan. Let cool slightly.
- Divide the polenta between three roomy bowls. Top with the burst cherry tomatoes and garnish with the basil.
- Serve immediately.
- Refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days.