burnt toast

Tag: sun-dried tomato

Sun-dried Tomato and Mushroom Polenta Hot Dogs

sun-dried tomato and mushroom hot dogs

Have you ever felt frustrated by the overpriced mediocreness of those tubes of biodynamic free range soy which, in the occasion of a barbecue, to which you are invited, being the only vegetarian, you are forced to procure, because you do not just want to be limited to boiled sweetcorn and grilled zucchini. You want to feel the fulness that only the combination of protein and carbs can give you. So you buy them anyway, but still feel like you’re not part of the mob, because obviously you’re missing out on what is the whole point of having a fire: Le meat. Do you? Ha I don’t. Not anymore. I suffered for years my friend, so  I do know your pain. However I feel as  soon as I started to finally become cool (e.g. joining the carnivores), cautiously, but evermore enthusiastically exploring what that world of meat had to offer, vegetarianism had started to become the new cool. Such a trendsetter I was, way way ahead of my time. What use was it to me now.

I kid you, it’s super helpful. I still predominantly eat vegetarian food. It’s fun, it’s delicious, it’s easy, but it’s also  a challenge. And I love challenges. We will never have an equal substitute for meat, because that would defy the point of not eating it, and it would be insulting to the deliciousness that meat has to offer.

What I present you is a delicious alternative to the hot dog. It is jam-packed with umami flavours, a beautiful marriage of sun-dried tomatoes, caramelised mushrooms, a hint of smoked paprika, a dash or red wine and a scattering of parmesan. And when you thought it couldn’t get any better, I sneakily add a handful ground almonds to boost the protein content. These hot dogs aren’t an alternative. They’re their own star. Go forth my vegetarian and non vegetarian friends, and enjoy the tastiness which is the incredible polenta hot dog.


Sun-dried Tomato and Mushroom Polenta Hot Dogs

This makes a bit more than a liter of mixture, which will fill one large baking tray, which can be sliced into 18+ rectangle hot dogs.


A few tbsp olive oil

2 onions, finely chopped

a drizzle of golden syrup, honey or a sprinkle of sugar

10 button mushrooms, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tsp chopped rosemary

1 tsp smoked paprika

freshly ground black pepper

2 Tbsp soy sauce


100ml red wine

900ml water

vegetable stock powder

1 cup / 160g fine polenta

50g butter, cubed

1 cup / 100g finely grated parmesan cheese

½ cup / 50g ground almonds

10 sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped

Heat the oil in a large fry pan and add the onions. Stir occasionally until starting to turn brown. Add the golden syrup to speed up the caramelisation. Once you’re happy with the colour, add the mushrooms, garlic, rosemary, paprika and black pepper, and cook, stirring, until it starts to smell delicious and the mushrooms seem cooked through. Add the soy sauce, stir a few more times, then take off the heat.

Heat the wine and water in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the veggie stock powder (up to you how much – you can always add more right at the end), and stir in the polenta. Keep stirring until it goes thick. Remove from the heat and add the butter, cheese and almonds. Once that’s nicely incorporated, add the sun-dried tomatoes and the mushroom mixture. Line a baking tray with baking paper and spread the mixture out evenly. Let it cool out completely, either at room temperature or in the fridge to speed things up, and cut into desired length/shape.

At this stage you can pack a few away into a plastic bag and find a nice spot in the freezer for them. Because really, you’re not going to manage to eat all of them in the next few days.

When you’re ready to finish them off, preheat your oven to 200°C and bake them for 20 minutes or so until browned. Same procedure for the frozen ones, although they might need to be in there for a bit longer. I found they hold their shape best with this method. You can also fry them, but make sure you use enough oil, because they tend to stick. Serve with hot dog – friendly condiments.


Sun-dried Tomato and Cream Cheese Dip

sun-dried tomato and cream cheese dip

This one will be short and sweet. Salty, tangy, and creamy too. Yes, another dip. But I know you believe me when I tell you that I only give you awesome dip recipes. If I had to describe how dear this one is to me, I would say it would be like a favourite grandchild. You know, the one grandmas brag about with their 17 photo albums, the one who’s a successful med student with a beautiful blue-eyed girlfriend, and they reeeally just won’t shut up about them? That’s mine. Only I would hold myself back a little bit. Because it’s not your fault your grandchild isn’t as awesome as mine. But. Because I’m such a generous person, today I will let you in on my grandkid, my baby, so that you too can go brag about it. Share the love I say.

Sun-dried Tomato and Cream Cheese Dip

12 sun-dried tomato halves, roughly chopped

125g cream cheese, softened

125g sour cream

1 garlic clove, roughly chopped

1 tsp balsamic vinegar

¾ tsp vegetable stock granules

1 splash soy sauce

freshly ground black pepper

optional: a splash of milk

more chopped sundried tomatoes and basil, for garnish

Another dead easy one. Combine all ingredients, except for the garnish, in a jug, and give them a thorough whirl with your hand held blender. Add a splash of milk if it’s too thick for your liking. Voilà. Transfer to a pretty bowl and top with the extra sundried tomato and the basil.

I love this as a sandwich topping, or as part of a antipasti table, with some juicy kalamata olives, some steamed asparagus and some fresh focaccia.

Pesto rosso

pesto rosso

I love Saturdays. Maybe not quite as much as Fridays, but they’re very close. Growing up in Switzerland, my family and I would always go to the markets on Saturdays. The vendors would give me olives to sample, or a morsel of cheese, and little cups of home made cordial. Such bliss. There’s no way you’d be able to get a loaf of bread to stay crunchy for more of a couple of hours in this ridiculously humid climate here in Australia. The cheese would be kidnapped by an army of flies before it would have time to go off in the sweltering summer heat. Aah, I’m being too harsh. I love you both, my two homes. What one place lacks, the other has plenty of, tearing me back and forth, making it difficult to decide if I could ever live in the one place forever…

Let’s get back to business. One of our favourite buys on Saturday mornings was the pesto rosso we’d get from a friend’s shop. We’d eat that deliciousness with cheese, on bread, with maybe a few sliced picked cucumbers. It never occurred to me I could make it myself until I stumbled across it on this gem of a site, The Traveller’s Lunchbox. Pestos should always be made at home anyway. You save yourself money and disappointment. Which is a pretty good deal in my opinion. Get pestoing. And give your mother some. She’d love that.

 Pesto Rosso

20 semi dried tomato halves

80g grated parmesan

80g roasted walnuts, roughly chopped

2 medium rosemary sprigs, picked and chopped finely

3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

½ tsp salt

2 tsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp honey

2 pinches chilli flakes

6+ Tbsp olive oil

Combine all those beautiful ingredients in a jug or something with tall sides and introduce them to your hand held blender, or alternatively use a different blending device. You know what’s best. Whizz until well combined. You might have to add more oil. Yum yum. Now get a spoon and try. Or if you’ve got manners spread some on a piece of toast. Or fold through pasta with a few roasted cherry tomatoes. Or combine with some sour cream  to make a tasty spread or dip.

pesto rosso and cream cheese

%d bloggers like this: