Cleaning Out The Fridge

Creamy Polenta Roasted Vegetables And Pistacchio/Cranberry Pesto

We are leaving for our Summer away in Maui tomorrow.  And as you can imagine, I have been on a quest to go through all the perishables in the refrigerator before we leave.  This is definitely a place of challenge for me.  I know many who can look at what is left in their pantry and refrigerator at the tail end of a shopping cycle and whip up some ridiculously creative and delicious meal.  It takes me a bit more effort. But this week, I was determined.

A couple of days ago, I rummaged through the kitchen to take inventory of what we had.  Luckily that day I was also heading into town so when the idea of this dish came to mind, I knew I would need two ingredients I didn’t have so I ran to the market.  In some ways this felt like cheating, but I don’t care!  It was delicious.

There was polenta in the pantry, cauliflower and brussel sprouts, and some ricotta in the house.  While I imagined them all together I remembered this amazing recipe for a pistachio cranberry pesto I ran across over at Steamy Kitchen.  Of course I changed it up a bit…


1 cup ground polenta

3 cups water

3-4 heaping Tbsp of Ricotta cheese

pinch of salt

2 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast

dash of Olive Oil

1.  Bring water, salt, oil and nutritional yeast to a boil.

2.  Add polenta, and stir.  When it begins to boil, bring down to a simmer and be mindful of it.  Stir frequently.

3.  As the water dissapears and the polenta begins to look done, mixed in the Ricotta, stirring until its all blended.

4.  Then take off the flame.

::Roasted Cauliflower and Brussel Sprouts::

1 head of cauliflower cut into medium size florets

1 pound of brussels sprouts



olive oil

1.  Wash and cut vegetables.  I halved the brussels sprouts.

2.  Toss in a baking pan.

3.  Drizzle olive oil over the top of veggies, sprinkle the salt and pepper and then toss with hands until everything is covered with the oil.

4.  Place pan in a 450 degree preheated oven uncovered.

5.  I like my vegetables to be firm and just on the verge of still being crunchy.  With that said, play with it.  I left them in the oven for about 30 minutes.

::Pistachio Cranberry Pesto::

1/2 cup of roasted pistachios

1/2 dried cranberries

6 cloves of garlic (the recipe over at Steamy Kitchen called for roasted garlic.  I used raw.)

1/2 olive oil

Several sprigs of parsley

1. Place all ingredients except for oil in the food processor and blend until finely chopped.

2.  As it continues to blend, add the oil.

*I spooned the polenta on each plate, then added the roasted veggies on top.  Taking a dollop of the pesto, I placed that on top of the veggies and it was utterly divine!  The combination of flavors went really well together and I imagine this meal to be a great Winter dinner as well as a cool Spring meal.

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  1. This looks really tasty! I love trying to finish up what's in the fridge or pantry, but always imagine a dish where i need at least one more ingredient :) I've never seen anyone add yeast to the polenta though, do you do that for flavor or texture?

  2. I wish my cleaning out the fridge exercise was quite so delicious looking. :)

  3. This looks delicious. I will definitely try this and finally use my half pack polenta in the pantry. Great post Elena. Have a great vacation.

  4. It does look delicious. I would never have thought to use yeast in polenta. It's just amazing what wonderful tasty creations can be made with leftovers in the fridge and a little imagination.

    • Noel,

      I discovered Nutritional Yeast, which is VERY different then regular yeast, earlier this year. It gives things a lovely buttery savory flavor. I've started using it in quite a few things such as soups, polenta, dips, and salad dressing. The possibilities with this are endless really.

  5. Polenta and Brussels sprouts — YUM. Lovely post, and the combination is really intriguing. I'm a huge Brussels fan (ever since I learned how to cook them properly). (found you via FoodBuzz, by the way)

  6. This is, indeed, divine! How did you roast the pistachios? I've recently gotten into pistachios, I love their depth and silkiness when ground (especially in baked goods!).

    • Ms. Whiteplates,

      I bought them roasted. And I have to say, that this is the first time I have ever used them in a recipe and they are amazing! I love them alone, but you're right… they add a delicious depth of flavor that made this pesto divine.

  7. HAVE FUN IN MAUI!! Eat well.

  8. I always have to run to the store as I try to get ride of stuff in the fridge and pantry. Sometiems you don’t have a choice :D. I love how you make your pesto.

  9. Have a great time in Maui! BTW, love your dish from the fridge and pantry!

  10. I love the addition of the yeast with the polenta, it seems like it would really round out the flavor (which can sometimes be a bit bland). Thanks for sharing!

    • Skylar, I wanted to clarify, because others have emailed confused. I'm using Nutritional Yeast. Not they yeast used to make bread! These are two very different things! :)

  11. Love this recipe! We are all about cleaning out the fridge/pantry. That's how we cook most of the time. It's the best way to eat creatively.

  12. This sounds divine! I love cauliflower. Have fun in Maui!

  13. Beautiful recipe. Simple and healthy…

  14. That's a great idea for a little left over meal. I recently started using polenta a lot when I cook, it's an amazing grain that you can prepare in so many ways. Thanks for inspiration!

  15. Hey Elena, I don't think I've ever actually seen your blog before-it's beautiful. And I think I've actually made this dish almost exactly (minus the nutritional yeast), and it was certainly a 'using whatever I had in the fridge/cleaning out the fridge' sort of thing. I'm going to make my next plate of grits/polenta this way, as it sounds so simple and enticing…

  16. This looks amazing! I can't wait to try it!


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