In this bowl, the strong flavor of basil is paired with polenta and savory sautéed mushrooms. Basil is a fragrant herb that comes into season in late spring, since it’s sensitive to cooler temperatures.

Soft Polenta and Mushroom Bowl with Walnut-Kale Pesto [Vegan]

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Cooking Time



For the Polenta:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil

For the Mushrooms:

  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil
  • 2 cups chopped mushrooms, such as cremini, portobello, or shiitake
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

For Serving:

  • 2 1/2 cups thinly sliced spinach
  • 1/2 cup diced tomato
  • 2 tablespoons diced red onion
  • 1/2 cup Walnut-Kale Pesto (recipe follows)
  • 1/2 medium lemon, halved

For the Walnut-Kale Pesto:

  • 2 tablespoons raw walnuts, soaked in water for 30 minutes
  • 1/4 cup stemmed and roughly chopped kale
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper


For the Bowl:

  1. Prepare the polenta. In a medium pot, bring the water to a boil. Add the salt. Slowly pour in the polenta while stirring. Add the avocado oil, reduce the heat to low, and cover. Cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the polenta is soft.
  2. Assemble each bowl with half of the polenta, mushrooms, spinach, tomato, and onion. Top with a dollop of pesto and garnish with a lemon wedge.

For the Walnut-Kale Pesto:

  1. Rinse and drain the walnuts. In a blender or food processor, combine the walnuts, kale, oil, water, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper. Blend on high for about 2 minutes, until smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides as needed. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if desired.

Nutritional Information

Per Serving: Calories: 535 | Carbs: 25 g | Fat: 47 g | Protein: 8 g | Sodium: 184 mg | Sugar: 5 g Note: The information shown is based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.


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