Saffron Polenta over Cauliflower Mash Topped with Pumpkin Sage Pesto & Sautéed Shallots


If you read this bog you know I am a huge fan of Isa Moskowitz. I recently got to see her do a live show down at the City Winery. Funny, entertaining and great food!

I follow Isa’s restaurant, Modern Love on FB, and they recently posted a picture of this new dish: Saffron Polenta With Pumpkin Sage Pesto, Cauliflower Puree, & Crispy Shallots. They said, “It’s here now and waiting for you.” Yes, if I lived in Omaha I would have been right over.

I figure since I can’t easily get to Modern Love, although I am planning a field trip, I might as well try to imitate the dishes and flavor combos in my own kitchen. I used parsley to balance out the earthiness of the sage in the pesto which, like with any pesto, is better if made ahead of time. giving the pesto time to mellow and the flavors to marry. The earthy sage contrasts so nicely with the freshness of the saffron. In fact, that little spoonful I place gently on top of my dish was definitely not enough! The cauliflower mash and sautéed shallots add wonderful texture.

Note: Depending on how many people you are serving, there will be leftovers.

Saffron Polenta
1/2 cup uncooked organic polenta
1 1/2 cups water
Pinch saffron threads

Pour water into a pot. Rub the saffron threads between your fingers and drop them into the water. Bring it to a boil and then add the polenta. Reduce the flame and whisk until the polenta soaks up the water. Take the polenta off the heat and pour it into a rectangular baking dish and spread it out so that it is about 1″ thick. Let it sit for about 30 minutes for it to set. Cut it into any shape you like. I like to use a circle cutter.

Heat about a tablespoon of oil in a skillet and add the polenta. Let it go until it is starting to get crispy on the first side. You might even hear it popping. Then flip it and cook the second side.

Pumpkin Sage Pesto (makes about 1 cup, can be frozen)
1/2 cup fresh sage
1/2 cup fresh parsley
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon chickpea or sweet white miso
1 clove of garlic
Pinch of salt

Place all of the ingredients into the food processor and process until it comes together and forms pesto.

Cauliflower Mash
1 head of cauliflower
Vegan milk *
Vegan butter *
Salt and white pepper, to taste

Cut the cauliflower into chunks and place in a pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Cook until the cauliflower is soft. Drain and place back into the pot.

* The amounts of milk and butter will vary, just like mashed potatoes, depending on the texture you like.

Start with a small amount of milk and butter use an immersion blender to puree until smooth. Add more butter or milk if necessary. Season with salt and white pepper.

Sautéed Shallots
Shallots, about 1 per person

Slice the shallots and water or oil sauté until soft.

Plate it up however you like and enjoy!

One thought on “Saffron Polenta over Cauliflower Mash Topped with Pumpkin Sage Pesto & Sautéed Shallots

  1. I’m a huge fan of Isa as well— her cook books are my go-to for inspiration for my blog. This dish looks mouth-watering! You’re making me want to go to Nebraska JUST to go to her restaurant!

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