Saturday, January 26, 2013

polenta cakes with garlicky mushrooms {food matters project}

Are you as intrigued by mushrooms as I am?

I am not sure why I find them so fascinating. Maybe the fact that you can die if you eat the wrong one. Maybe how they grow wild on other plants and in the ground. Maybe the fact that they taste fabulous.

In any case this recipe is the perfect wintertime snuggle-up meal. Warm polenta topped with a variety of spicy mushrooms. Earthy, sensuous, comforting.

This is the pick for the Food Matters Project this week. See what others did here.

Polenta with Garlicky Mushrooms {from the Food Matters Cookbook, page 81}
Serves 4 to 8
1 cup coarse cornmeal
1/2 cup milk, preferably whole {or use water - I did}
Black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed
1 pound mushrooms, preferably assorted, sliced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon minced garlic, or more to taste

1. Put the cornmeal and a large pinch of salt in a medium saucepan; slowly whisk in 2 1/2 cups water and the milk to make a lump-free slurry. Set the pot over medium-high heat and bring almost to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and bubble gently, whisking frequently, until thick, 10 to 15 minutes. If the mixture becomes too thick, whisk in a bit more water; you want the consistency to be like thick oatmeal. Taste for seasoning and add salt if necessary and plenty of black pepper.

2. Grease a large baking pan with some olive oil {I used parchment paper un-greased}. While the polenta is still hot, pour it onto the sheet and use a spatula to spread it out evenly at least 1/2 inch thick. Brush the top lightly with oil, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate the polenta until it sets up, about 2 hours {or up to a day}.

3. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a clean large baking sheet with some of the oil. When the polenta is set, cut it into at least 12 squares or diamonds or use a round cookie cutter to make disks. Put the cakes on the baking sheet, brush with a bit more oil, and bake until they're warmed through and the edges begin to brown {the outside should be nice and toasted while the inside should stay soft}, 20 to 30 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, put the 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it's hot, add the mushrooms and thyme and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are tender and dried out a bit, about 10 minutes. Add the wine and let it bubble away for a couple of minutes; turn the heat to medium-low and add the garlic. Continue cooking until most of the wine has cooked off. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Serve a spoonful of mushrooms on top of each polenta cake.


  1. I've been trying to convince myself to like mushrooms for years now but maybe this polenta is the trick. I mean...I just love polenta so much that maybe I wouldn't even notice the mushrooms? :P

  2. Love the hearts Sandra! Great choice this week.

  3. I love the hearts too. So cute! This would be great for valentines day :) Thanks for the pick this week. I love polenta!

  4. I agree, the hearts are adorable! Joanne, if it makes you feel any better, I've only started eating mushrooms within the last five years or so and it started by mixing them into other dishes. I have never eaten them like I did last night straight out of the pan, though -- they were so great in this recipe!

  5. Cute- love the hearts, very creative since I probably wouldn't have thought to do that! And don't worry, I'm as intrigued (and in love) with mushrooms as you are. Kinda crazy if you pick the wrong one (although I don't ever want to think about that!).