This South African porridge (that's polenta to me, maybe grits to you) pie is made with layers of thick polenta, rich tomato based sauce with veggies, and tempeh bacon. Feel free to use any tempeh bacon or even gluten based facon or bacon bits over my version.
The recipe is fairly forgiving and since it's a casserole not much is likely to go wrong, so don't worry about perfect layers or holes.
Vegan Pap Tert
- Grease a medium casserole dish and preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius (325 F).
- First prepare the tempeh. You've got two options: deep fry or steam (I opt for the former). If you're going down the steaming route, steam the tempeh for ten minutes and then crumble or cut into small dice. Mix the rest of the tempeh bacon ingredients together (except the rice flour - omit that unless deep frying) and pour over the tempeh, mixing through.
- If you're going down the deep fry route, do the same as above but you can skip the steaming. Also be sure to add in the rice flour (it makes the tempeh crispier and appears to soak up a tad less oil). Heat a couple of inches of oil to medium high and fry the tempeh in batches until golden brown. Remove with a metal mesh spoon and allow to drain on kitchen roll.
- Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and sauté the onion and garlic over medium heat for about 5 minutes, after the onions get a little transparent but before stuff starts burning. Add the mushrooms and cook another minute before chucking in the wine, basil, salt, sugar, and cumin. After a minute or so most of the wine will have disappeared, and that's your cue to stir in the tinned tomatoes and paste. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened quite a bit.
- Moving on to the polenta, add the cumin and thyme to the stock in a medium saucepan and heat to somewhere around medium. Whisk in the polenta flour and continue to whisk until it thickens. You can switch to a wooden spoon if it's doing your wrists in (and it will because this is a thick polenta).
- Visually divide the polenta into three portions and spread ⅓ in the bottom of the casserole dish. Use the back of a wet spoon to help spread it out if it's too clumpy and solid. Spoon half of the tempeh bacon bits over and half of the sauce, followed by another layer of polenta. Repeat with the remaining tempeh and sauce and tuck it in with that final ⅓ of the polenta on top.
- Cover with the vegan cheese and pop in the oven for half an hour. Leave it to sit for ten minutes before serving (not really. I just feel like a responsible grown up saying that, but seriously. Who actually waits?)