Veggies Can Be Filling!

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While I was in China, Peter raved about this meal that he made twice in two weeks.  TWICE! With a husband who loves to cook a new dish every day, I was intensely curious about this particular meal.  I was even more shocked when I learned that my carnivorous husb was enjoying a vegetarian dish – veggies, grains, the like.

No.  Way.

I knew we simply had to cook this meal again, soon.  With a fridge full of veggies, we decided tonight was the night.

Polenta Gratin with Mushroom “Bolognese”
Adapted from Think Like A Chef

2 Tbsp peanut oil
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 small zucchini, chopped
1 small yellow squash, chopped
3 garlic gloves, minced
3 cups mushrooms, any kind, chopped (We used white button and cremini)
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh thyme
1 cup veggie stock
Salt and pepper

1 cup cornmeal (polenta)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup fresh-grated Parmesan

Heat peanut oil over medium heat in large skillet.  Add onion, carrot, zucchini, and yellow squash and saute for 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Toss in mushrooms and thyme and cook for three minutes, until mushrooms are soft.  Add tomatoes and veggie stock and simmer the Bolognese until the sauce thickens, about 30 minutes.  Set aside.

For the polenta, bring 4 cups water to a boil in a saucepan.  Add a pinch of salt, then add polenta VERY slowly – a spoonful at a time, stirring well after each addition.  Stir constantly while bringing the polenta to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cook the polenta (stir occasionally) for about 30 minutes, until smooth.  Stir olive oil into the polenta.

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Spread half the polenta in the bottom of a 9″ x 9″ baking dish.  Spoon 1/2 – 2/3 of bolognese onto polenta, then top with the rest of the polenta.  Reserve the rest of the bolognese.  Top the whole gratin with Parmesan and bake for 40 minutes.  Turn the oven up to broil and brown the cheese for 3 – 4 minutes.  Warm the reserved sauce and serve with the gratin.


I can see why Peter loves this dish – yum!  The warm polenta is so filling, but not at all heavy.  And stuffing the gratin full of veggies is a great way to enjoy them in a nontraditional way.  Veggies can be filling!

While we were grocery shopping this weekend, I spied a new fruit that I’ve never seen in the flesh: mangosteen.  I’ve seen the juice in fancy antioxidant blends, yet I was unprepared to see this unremarkable little purple fruit.

Mangosteens are about the size of a small apple and apparently are wicked hard to grow due to the temperamental mangosteen plant. Food companies have generated a lot of hoopla about the supposedly high antioxidant content of mangosteen. The fruit appears to have some antioxidant effects, although it’s not any more of a “miracle fruit” than any other delicious (and more easily-accessible) fruit.

Mangosteens have thick, extremely bitter hulls (trust me, I tried it and it tasted … whew :O ). The edible fruit is creamy white and segmented like an orange:

How did it taste? Like no other fruit I’ve ever tasted. It wasn’t as sweet as, say, an orange, but the flavor was a rich combination of lychees, strawberries, and plums. The flesh was super creamy … and gone in three bites!

Gussie says: give it a try! 🙂

Q: Have you ever tasted mangosteen? What’s the most unusual fruit you’ve ever tried?


  1. I love polenta and will be trying this recipe…great idea to layer veggies.

    I have never had a mangosteen…I am not adventurous when it comes to my fruits! I think eating mangos may be the most adventurous I’ve been.

  2. I grew up eating mangosteens, so I can hardly say it’s “exotic”…I don’t think durians are unusual, either, because I grew up eating that, too. 😉
    Hmm…so most unusual? Would you believe strawberries and blueberries and raspberries were “exotic” to me? no longer, of course…but when I first moved to America, I was delighted to see them in abundance!

  3. I’m saving this to try when it’s colder out; it seems like a lovely and hearty dish. 🙂

    I’ve wanted to try mangosteen for a while now and your description of it makes me want to try it even more!

  4. Mangosteen…yum! We pulled them off trees when I was in the Philippines and ate them fresh. Truly a unique and wonderful fruit.

    Polenta is something I am just getting into. It’s tasty, and such a unique texture.

  5. Hey Jessie,

    Peter’s dish sounds and looks absolutely amazing! I can definitely see why he had it twice in two weeks. I especially love that it’s meatless! There are just some dishes that you don’t mind having over and over again, and I can see this being one of them.

    Mangosteen are quite the yummy little guys. But like Sophia, I was also fortunate enough to eat them a lot when I was younger so they aren’t that exotic to me. With that said, I do enjoy them a lot but find them rather pricey here. I love that they’re sweet, yet sour at the same time. My dad told me if you count the knobs on the bottom, that tells you how many sections of meat are inside. Most exotic fruit? Hmm, that’s a tough one cause I’m used to eating Asian fruits which are usually exotic to most. For now I’d have to say….yup, you guessed it, durian. But it has to be fresh durian. We always have frozen durian but rarely fresh durian. Oh an fresh jackfruit too. Mmmm, now I’m craving some fruit. Oh and green unripened mango (made into a salad). Have a great evening Jessie!

  6. JESSIE!!! I’m back on your blog. BACK BACK BACK.

    WHAT?! The pink flesh isn’t EDIBLE?!?! That’s a crying shame. It’s, like, 75% of the volume of the actual fruit! 🙁 Frugal Asian here, sorry. I’m going to have to try Mangosteen one of these days, nonetheless. Because frugal as I am, I’m a sucker for edible adventures. Ha! 🙂

    xoxo Aletheia

  7. You must be starting to rub off on your husband, because this dish is a veggie lover’s dream! Oh polenta. how I adore thee. I will be making this. Soon.

    That mangosteen looks crazy! I’m impressed that you had the guts to eat it after seeing its innards. It’s hard to find adventurous fruits around here, sadly enough.

  8. Polenta is my favourite food ever.

    I saw mangosteen at the grocery store 2 weeks ago but I didn’t buy it because it would’ve cost me a small fortune.
    I’ll stick to apples, blueberries, and wine for my antioxidants I guess.

  9. We have mangosteens here and I have never tried it, but now I just might have to check it out. Thanks for the info. Your husbands dish looks great. Sometimes veggie meals really do hit the spot.

  10. I am definitely making this recipe! I absolutely LOVE polenta, and I love dishes like this that are filling without being heavy. So true that veggies can be satisfying in and of themselves! 🙂

  11. Jessie this recipe sounds delicious! I’m definitely going to have to give it a try! And by the way, I love your blog! Have a great rest of your summer and see you back at school in less than 2 weeks (ahh!)

  12. whenever i make my veggie soup i get so stuffed. the fibre is powerful isnt it! haha. i always say “thank god for veggies” when im hungry, because they keep my blood sugar even and keeps me full and not too voracious 🙂


  13. I have never even heard of a mangosteen. The most interesting fruit I’ve tried was a lemonade back when I lived in NZ. It was a crossbreed between a lemon and a tangerine (or was it orange?) and looked very much like a badly deformed lemon. But it tasted absolutely delicious, just what you’d expect from a natural lemonade 🙂

  14. A man friendly veggie meal? I’m definitely interested!

    I’ve never tried mangosteen itself, but a long time ago I tried a mangosteen sorbet. It was really good, actually. I never really believed all the hype about mangosteen (I don’t think that any one food is going to solve all our health problems). But fruit is obviously healthy and yes it has lots of antioxidants, so I would love to give it a try. The edible portion seems rather small though.

    I haven’t tried a lot of weird fruits. Once I had this really bitter fruit- I think it was called quince? Not sure. It was awful though. I don’t think it is edible raw…I read that people usually use it for jellies or something. Anyway, I stopped experimenting much after that!

  15. This looks great!! I love polenta and will have to make this since it’s GF. I have a very carniverous husband too, so if Peter is in love with this dish, maybe Andrew will be too!!

    I’ve never tried a mangosteen, but would love to! I can’t think of any exotic fruits I’ve tried, but Andrew and his co-workers got a durian and tried it. They said it was AWFUL! 😉

  16. That looks like an incredible meal! With a dinner as good as that I think even my hubby would be ok with eating vegetarian, lol! The mangosteen sounds great, I’d love to try it!

  17. I adore fruit and hate when people get on the whole “fruit is only sugar” kick.

    Anyhow – unusual fruit though? Nothing unusual – just different for me at times would be Mango and Pineapple 🙂

    And can you come cook for me? Or better yet, I come live with you? 🙂

  18. Interesting take on Bolgnese. I have yet to try that fruit but would def give it a go.

  19. Wow! That does look so good! I haven’t had polenta in ages but you’re making me want some now! Love the mushrooms inside and the Parmesan on top. YUMMERS!

    I’ve eaten mangosteens all my life – they’re probably my favourite fruit after the sapodilla plum and watermelon. The most unusual fruit I’ve eaten has to be the snake skin fruit (buah salak). It looks strange, smells very unusual for a fruit, like a cross between fermenting bread dough and used socks *eckk* and has a taste that really takes getting used to. It’s native to Indonesia and one fruit I have not been able to enjoy despite several attempts….

  20. That polenta gratin looks amazing – a wonderful comfort dish that doesn’t look overly heavy. Definitely a must try.

    I have never heard of, let alone tasted, mangosteen. Seems such a pity you can’t eat the luscious looking pink fruit of it!

  21. I love to use mushroom to substitute meat too!! it taste just like meat ! ( oh man, why i still keep saying meat :-P)

    the mangosteen you had looks very different from the one I had in China. I remember it should have much more white stuff….:-)

  22. That is quite the feast!! It looks delicious and definitely filling. 🙂 Polenta is a great addition to any veggie meal.

    I’ve never tried a mangosteen before. It sounds really good, but are they expensive? Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like there’s all that much to eat in one.

  23. The recipe really looks good. But did you only add that much cheese? It is such a small amount and your photo looks like there is much more. I will definitely be trying this. I bought a mangosteen when I went to China Town with LeQuan. Actually, I bought a bag of them – then learned they are a super fruit, after that. I loved them… but it was frustrating that there is so little fruit inside each gorgeous orb.

  24. I have never tried mangosteens before. I have tried the juice. My aunt bought it for a while and I gave it a whirl.
    It looks absolutely delicious though. I tried lychee fruit a while back and I liked it.
    That recipe looks great!

  25. great job peter! i can’t believe you found a fresh mangosteen! i’ve tried them dried and freeze dried and seen them canned, but never experienced one the way you did….

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