Inspired by the Kashi frozen dinner of the same name.
A few things you should know:
- I haven’t had the actual frozen dinner. My mom told me about it (she loved it) and it sounded amazing, so I decided to attempt to reproduce it, loosely.
- I read the ingredient list and worked from there. As usual when I make a recipe, all measurements are [very] approximate.
- I did not even attempt to incorporate in the Kashi 7-Grain Blend normally found in all Kashi products. It seemed sorta unnecessary to me.
- I couldn’t find a ready-made ancho chili sauce, so I bought dehydrated ancho chilies at the co-op, which I reconstituted in a small amount of boiling-hot water for 30 minutes or so.
- This was a LOT of work to make, because there are about 4-5 processes all going on simultaneously. But I think it is probably worth it if you’ve got the time and the inclination.
- 6 Tbsp grapeseed oil
- ½ cup amaranth
- ½ cup cornmeal (polenta)
- ½ cup vegetable broth
- 1 medium sweet potato
- 3-4 fistfuls of kale, shredded
- 1 large plantain
- 1 can black beans, drained
- 2 Tbsp roasted, salted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
For the sauce (which is more like a salsa, uncooked):
- ½ large red onion
- 3 Tbsp fresh cilantro leaves
- 4 large cloves of garlic, pressed
- 1 Tbsp sesame seeds
- 2 dehydrated ancho chilies, reconstituted and deseeded
- 2 Tbsp water
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp raw sugar
- Sea salt
- 2 small tomatoes
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Combine all the sauce ingredients, EXCEPT for the tomatoes and 1 of the ancho chilies, in a food processor and combine until it’s like a semi-chunky salsa.
Amaranth Polenta: In a small saucepan, heat 2 Tbsp of the oil over medium heat. Add ¼ cup of the of the “salsa” and sauté for 2-3 minutes until it smells great. Stir in ½ cup amaranth and ½ cup of cornmeal. Stir in ½ cup vegetable broth and ½ cup water. Stir often while bringing to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the grains are barely crunchy and the contents have become like a semi-solid mass. Transfer this mixture to a shallow baking dish (9×9 inch or similar) and put aside to cool.
Now, to the remaining “salsa,” add the tomatoes and the remaining 1 ½ ancho chilies, and blend in the food processor. This is the sauce that will go over top of every thing else.
Chop the sweet potato into ¼-inch cubes. Toss with a bit of oil, salt, and pepper and put in a edged roasting dish for 30-40 minutes, until fork-tender.
Meanwhile, In a medium-size skillet, heat 3-4 Tbsp of oil over medium-high heat. Peel the plantain and slice into ¼-inch thick slices on the diagonal. Place the slices in the oil in the skillet. Sprinkle with chili powder, cumin, and salt. Fry for 5-8 minutes on each side until outsides are crispy and inside is tender.
Remove the plantains from the oil and set aside on a small plate. Add the kale to the same skillet and sauté until bright green and tender.
Slice the polenta into 4 equal-sized portions.
Once the sweet potatoes are done roasting, you’re ready to assemble the dish. I assembled it separately for each portion, giving each plate about 1/4th of the total prepared ingredients.
This is the order I assembled it (bottom to top):
- Black beans (2 Tbsp)
- Plantain slices
- Roasted sweet potatoes
- Ancho Chili sauce (2 Tbsp)
- Pepitas (1/2 Tbsp)
VERDICT: It may or may not taste like the original frozen dinner, but it was still amazingly delicious. Tim and I sat there and marveled at the multi-layered tastes. It’s still lingering pleasantly in my mouth as I write this. And I’m feeling pretty proud of myself.