Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Cooking Winner - Vegetarian!

Last week, French’s had a cook-off in Manhattan. On the day of the latest winter storm, but that doesn’t stop intrepid writers and bloggers from getting around the city.

Of the five finalists, only one recipe was vegetarian. As it happens, the recipe was delicious – and the winner. The onion polenta with spiced tomato avocado salad was most definitely not your mother’s tuna casserole, topped with French’s French Fried Onions, but the recipe did make use of with French’s Cheddar French Fried Onions and French’s horseradish mustard.

The contest rules state that the recipes must use no more than 8 ingredients (not counting salt, pepper or water) and take no more than an hour, making the entries particularly family friendly. In fact, 4 of the 5 finalists were moms, and all were women, so despite male chefs running most major restaurant kitchens, women still seem to dominate the home kitchen.

The winning recipe is by Suellen Calhoun, a mother of 2 from Des Moines, Iowa. She won $25,000 (and got a trip to New York). It’s time to break out the canned fried onions, the mustard, the Worcestershire sauce, and get creative for next year’s contest.


Servings: 6 Cook Time: 30 min. Prep Time: 10 min.

4 ½ cups Water

2 tsp. Salt, divided

1 ½ cups Dry polenta grain

6 oz. French’s Cheddar French Fried Onions

1 lb. Tomatoes, seeded, cut into ½ inch pieces

2 Ripe avocados, peeled, seeded and cut into ½ inch pieces

1 bunch Fresh cilantro, chopped

5 Tbsp. Olive oil, divided

2 Tbsp. Sherry vinegar

1/3 cup French’s Horseradish Mustard

Optional Garnish: Fresh cilantro

  1. In a medium saucepan add water and 1 teaspoon salt; bring to a boil.
  2. Slowly add polenta to water, whisking continuously until all of polenta is used. Cook for 5 minutes, whisking continuously.
  3. Remove polenta from heat and stir in coarsely chopped French’s Cheddar French Fried Onions.
  4. Spoon into a 10 inch pie dish. Let stand for 15-20 minutes to firm.
  5. Meanwhile in a large bowl mix tomatoes, avocados, cilantro, 1 teaspoon salt, 3 tablespoons olive oil, vinegar and French’s Horseradish Mustard until blended. Set aside.
  6. Turn polenta out onto a board. Carefully cut into 6 pieces.
  7. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Place polenta pieces in hot oil and brown until golden on each side, about 5 minutes.
  8. Remove from skillet and serve browned polenta pieces toped with spiced tomato avocado salad.

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