Herby Polenta with Mushrooms & Spinach

I’ve adapted this recipe slightly from Ottolenghi’s version in his cookbook “Plenty“. I’ve never cooked with polenta before, so this was a bit of an experiment, but when something includes two of my favourite food groups (cheese and mushrooms) I’ll happily give it a whirl and this is yummy!

To serve two, you will need:

For the Mushrooms
350g of mixed mushrooms (whatever takes your fancy really)
Tablespoon Fresh or dried tarragon
Teaspoon Fresh or dried Thyme
Teaspoon Chervil
3 small (or 2 laregish) cloves of garlic, crushed
Olive oil (to fry the mushrooms)
Sea Salt and Freshly milled black pepper
2 Large Handfuls of baby spinach leaves

For the Polenta
80g quick-cook (sometimes called “instant”) polenta (if you use traditional polenta, it can take up to 50 minutes to reach the proper consistency)
500ml vegetable stock
Generous teaspoon of chopped rosemary
Teaspoon of chopped parsley or chervil
(although if you have no fresh herbs, mixed dried herbes de provance or similar will be fine)
50g grated parmesan

For the cheese topping
100g of gruyere/Taleggio
50g of Mozzarella

Step 1: Mushrooms
-Chop your mushrooms – you want to keep them chunky, so maybe just half them/quarter really large ones
-Heat olive oil in a large frying pan and fry up the mushrooms until they start to turn golden
-Add in a bit more olive oil (or a dash of truffle oil if you have it), the herbs and the garlic and simmer
-Taste and season appropriately and keep warm

Step 2: The Polenta
-Bring 500ml of vegetable stock to the boil on the hob and then add the polenta, stirring constantly as you do and then immediately lower the heat to the lowest setting.
-If you are using instant polenta it will start to form the desired porridgey consistency almost immediately – keep stiring to ensure none sticks to the pan (if you think it is too thick you can always add a little more stock/water) (If you are using traditional polenta, this process could take up to 50 minutes though)
– When the polenta is porridge-like and comes away from the edges of the pan remove from heat and add in the herbs, grated parmesan and salt and pepper to taste and stir thoroughly

Step 3: Cheese Topping
– Spread the polenta onto an oven-proof tray/wooden board/shallow dish and flatten using a palette knife or spatula
– lay thin slices of the gruyere/taleggio on the top of the polenta, together with dots of mozzarella and grill on high heat until the cheese bubbles

Step 4: Final Flourishes
– Mix the spinach leaves into the warm mushroom mix and spoon onto the bubbling cheesy polenta
– scatter with parsley (if you have some left) and serve immediately!



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