Tag Archives: creamy polenta

Polenta Stuffed Portobellos

In anticipation of the upcoming season, I signed up for the same CSA I used last year. For those of you who haven’t heard of CSA, it stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and basically means you sign up with a local farm and receive a share of whatever they happen to pull out of the ground every week during the growing season. My family and I loved doing this last year. Not only did we have enough food for $25/week that we had to work to eat it all, but we got to try a lot of new things that we may not have otherwise purchased, and everything was just about as fresh and delicious as it could possibly be without going out and picking it yourself. I am not a talented gardener, and I don’t have room to do it even if I was so this is the perfect way for us to have local, farm fresh veggies all through the summer and fall.

Shortly after signing up, I happened upon this gorgeous cookbook, The Forest Feast, by Erin Gleeson, and it was just bursting with simple and gorgeous vegetable dishes. I couldn’t resist. For those who know me, you know I have a tragic cookbook addiction and it had been a while since I had fed the beast. I needed it. Really, I did.

This is the first recipe I made out of my new little treasure. I made a few minor changes based on the contents of my fridge, but I have to say, these are deceptively simple. For a vegetarian dish I found it to be filling and complex, and the mushrooms add a nice “meaty” texture that was quite satisfying. Her photo shows a beautiful portobello with a dainty scoop of polenta and a sprinkle of veggies. Mine were less pretty since I just piled everything on there (who are we kidding, the creamy polenta is the best part!), but they were every bit as delicious. I’m guessing after she took that photo she piled some more stuff on hers too.

Don’t like mushrooms? I would make this same recipe with sweet bell peppers or a slab of grilled eggplant (and probably will!)

Polenta Stuffed Portobellos (yeah, I went a little nuts with the polenta, so sue me)

Polenta Stuffed Portobellos (yeah, I went a little nuts with the polenta, so sue me)

Polenta Stuffed Portobellos
(from The Forest Feast)

4 portbello mushrooms
1 cup polenta
1/2 cup grated parmesan
2 tbsp. butter
1/2 pound brussels sprouts
1 red onion
Olive oil or butter
Salt and pepper

Heat oven to 375˚. Put portobellos on a baking sheet. Remove stems and discard. Drizzle each with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes, until tender.

While portobellos are cooking, thinly slice brussels sprouts and red onion. Heat a skillet to medium, add a drizzle of olive oil and/or a tbsp. of butter and cook slowly to caramelize, about 15 minutes (turn down to medium low if veggies are browning too quickly, you want them nice and soft, not scorched).

Meanwhile, bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add a dash of salt. Add polenta and stir. Turn heat down and simmer for 10-15 minutes until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat. Add 2 tbsp. butter and parmesan cheese. Stir well until everything is melted. Add salt and pepper to taste (I always wait until after I’ve added the cheese since it can sometimes be very salty on its own).

Assemble mushrooms. Start with the mushroom, add a big spoonful or two of polenta and top with vegetables. Finish with a sprinkle of cheese if desired.

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Roasted Zucchini Boats on a Creamy Polenta Sea

Last week it was raining in Oregon.  I know, it’s a shocker.  This month I’m doing a 30-day walking challenge, which means instead of enjoying the gentle tapping of raindrops on my roof, I was out slogging away in it, getting drenched in the process.  It’s not all bad.  It smells good.  It’s not very cold.  Things could definitely be worse.  However, all that rain made me wish for a boat.  Since I had no boat, I decided to set sail on zucchini boats instead.

If you haven’t tried polenta, this is a simple but delicious recipe to get you started.  It might look basic, but it was the perfect rich, creamy counter balance for my crunchy, zesty zucchini boats.   If you have any left over, put it in a dish or pan in the fridge and it will set up solid.  Then slice and pan fry, grill or bake it for a crunchy little cake.  It’s like two foods in one!

I made this as a main dish, but if you want something a little heartier, it would be great with a side of chicken or fish or pork chop or…you get the idea.

Zucchini Boats on a sea of creamy polenta.  Mmmm.

Zucchini Boats on a sea of creamy polenta. Mmmm.

Roasted Zucchini Boats on a Creamy Polenta Sea

4 zucchini
1 cup chopped tomato
4 oz. goat cheese
Salt & pepper
Olive oil
3-4 green onions, sliced and divided
1 cup dry polenta
4 cups water or broth
4 oz. cream cheese
1 tbsp. butter

Preheat oven to 375˚.  Slice each zucchini lengthwise. Using a spoon or melon baller, scoop the seeds out of your zucchini.

A little zucchini canoe.

A little zucchini canoe.

Fill your boats with tomatoes, cheese and half the green onions.  Sprinkle with salt & pepper.  Drizzle with a bit of olive oil.  Bake for 15-20 minutes until zucchini is tender.

While the zucchini boats are cooking, bring 4 cups of water or broth to a boil.  Add one cup of polenta.  Cover and cook 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  When all the water is absorbed, remove from heat and stir in butter, cream cheese and the rest of the green onions.  Season to taste with salt & pepper.  Ladle some polenta onto a plate and top with zucchini boats.  Serves 4.

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Spicy Rainbow Chard with Bacon and Polenta

Even though I love veggies, I still occasionally come across one I haven’t tried before.  This week at farmer’s market, a beautiful bunch of rainbow chard caught my eye.  I had to buy it.

Rainbow Chard.  Isn't it pretty?

Rainbow Chard. Isn’t it pretty?

I asked the vendor how he normally cooks it and he sheepishly admitted that he’d never actually tried it himself.  What?  So…left to my own devices I went home and dug up some recipes online and hit on one that we all really liked.

I’m usually not a big fan of greens.  I didn’t grow up eating them, so I’ve slowly introduced myself to them.  I like almost all of them raw, and just recently have started cooking them now and then.  While I would not consider chard (or any leafy greens really) to be an entry level vegetable, I really enjoyed this.  While raw, it was quite bitter, but a quick saute mellowed the bite substantially.  The sweetness of the shallot and vinegar and smokiness of the bacon complemented the slight bitterness of the greens, adding up to a tasty dish indeed.   Add a creamy, cheesy polenta for contrast and it was absolutely delicious.  If you’re wondering if the kids will eat it, I can only say that mine both cleaned their plates with a smile on their faces.

Spicy Rainbow Chard with Bacon and Polenta

Spicy Rainbow Chard with Bacon and Polenta

Spicy Rainbow Chard with Bacon and Polenta
(from Sunset)

1 cup polenta
1/2 tsp. salt
4 slices thick cut bacon
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 large shallots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 large bunches rainbow chard, ribs cut into 1/2 inch sections and leaves roughly chopped
1/4 – 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar

Cook polenta with salt as package directs.  Meanwhile, cook bacon until crisp and drain on paper towels.

Discard bacon fat and heat olive oil in the same pan. Cook shallots, garlic and chard ribs until softened, about 4 minutes.  Stir in chard leaves, chile flakes and 1/3 cup water.  Cover, reduce heat to low and cook until wilted, 2-3 minutes.

Stir butter and cheese into polenta and spoon into bowls.  Toss chard with vinegar and spoon over polenta.  Crumble bacon and sprinkle on top.  Serves 4.

Note:  This meal can easily be made vegetarian by simply eliminating the bacon.

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Mushroom and Sausage Ragú with Creamy Polenta

I’ve never been a fan of grits.  I think it’s one of those things you have to grow up eating to appreciate.  But I love polenta.  This doesn’t really make sense because they are basically the same thing.  And yet, it’s true.  I don’t know if it’s the way it’s cooked, or the way it’s presented or if it’s just in my head.  I suppose in the end it doesn’t really matter.  In any case, this post is about polenta.  Which is wonderful.  Especially when you mix cream cheese and butter into it.  If you are on a gluten-free diet, or just wanting something different from rice or potatoes to smother with something, eat this.  You can thank me later.

Topping off the polenta is a delicious mushroom and sausage concoction.  Together it was heaven on a plate.  When I first showed this recipe to my daughter Claire she was suspicious of the whole thing.  It didn’t look like much.  But in the end, she made the loudest yummy noises of all.  This disappeared in record time but it will definitely be making a reappearance in our kitchen very soon!

Mushroom and Sausage Ragú with Creamy Polenta

Mushroom and Sausage Ragú with Creamy Polenta

Mushroom and Sausage Ragú with Creamy Polenta
(adapted from Cooking Light)

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
8 ounces hot Italian sausage
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 – 1 pound mushrooms, sliced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup uncooked polenta
4 ounces cream cheese
1 tablespoon butter

To make polenta, bring broth and 1 1/2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add polenta, stirring well. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer 15-20 minutes or until thick, stirring occasionally. Stir in remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt, cream cheese, and butter.

Meanwhile, eat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Remove sausage from casings. Add sausage to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Remove sausage from pan.

Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion; sauté 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms; sauté 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in sausage, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and tomatoes; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium; simmer gently for 10-15 minutes.  Serve over polenta.

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