A couple of months ago a few friends and I got together to start a monthly cookbook dinner party. Four of us got together at Olga’s place for the very first one, showcasing recipes from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty.
We made the cucumber salad with smashed garlic and ginger, the zucchini and hazelnut salad, the surprise tatin, and this amazing mushroom and herb polenta. Since Plenty doesn’t really have dessert, we served pistachio and orange water meringues from Ottolenghi, pistachio ice cream, and lemon bars. The mushroom polenta was our favorite by far.
The problem with vegetarian dishes is that they often taste like just a side dish. That is not the case with this recipe. The polenta is filling and the mushrooms stand in for meat. This combination of textures makes for a rich, comforting and satisfying dish.
Mushroom and Herb Polenta
(Adapted from Plenty)
• 8 tablespoons olive oil
• 8 cups mixed mushrooms
• 4 garlic cloves, chopped
• 2 tablespoons tarragon
• 2 tablespoons thyme
• 2 tablespoons truffle oil ( I prefer black over white
• 4 ½ cups vegetable stock
• 1 cup polenta (instant or traditional, try de la Estancia brand)
• 6 ounces Parmesan, grated; plus 4 tablespoons
• 5 tablespoons butter
• 2 teaspoons rosemary, finely chopped
• 8 ounces Taleggio, rind removed, cut into ¼ inch slices
• Salt and pepper
1. Add 4 tablespoons olive oil to a large skillet and set over medium-high heat.
2. Add the mushrooms, and cook until brown. Do this in batches if necessary and do not overcrowd the skillet, otherwise the mushrooms will steam instead of browning. Once all the mushrooms have been cooked, transfer them back to the skillet and add the garlic, tarragon, thyme, truffle oil, and salt and pepper. Set aside.
3. Bring the stock to a boil in a large pot, add the polenta, reduce the heat to medium and stir constantly with a spoon until the polenta starts to pull away from the sides of the pan. Instant polenta will take 5-10 minutes; traditional polenta can take up to 45-50 minutes. Once the polenta has reached the appropriate consistency, add 6 ounces grated Parmesan, rosemary, and butter. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Spread the polenta over a heat-proof dish, top with Taleggio, and place under broiler for a couple of minutes until the cheese starts to bubble. Remove from the broiler, and scatter the mushrooms over the cheese, including any juice that might have accumulated. Sprinkle the 4 tablespoons Parmesan. Return dish to the broiler to warm through.