This recipe for Polenta with Wild Mushrooms, Garlic, and Sage is cozy and comforting, perfect for the cooler months of spring or fall, when wild mushrooms are ready for the picking.
This can be made with wild mushrooms like chanterelles or morels if you have access to them –or tame, store-bought mushrooms, like shiitake, maitake, portobello, cremini or even simple button mushrooms. Add cheese for extra richness or keep it vegan!
In late spring I seek out morels, and in fall, I opt for Chanterelles. Both grow wild here in the Pacific Northwest. Chanterelles live among the trees, in the dense and foggy forests of Douglas Firs and Western Hemlocks.
Woody and earthy with a hint of fruitiness, their texture is meaty yet tender. Both morels and chanterelles are difficult to cultivate, so most of the fresh chanterelles and morels you see at farmers’ markets and grocery stores, truly are “wild”.
And this is what makes wild mushrooms so special. Somehow you can’t help but feel the woody forest they came from.
To me, there is nothing more comforting than a bowl of mushroom polenta, no matter what the season.
For extra heartiness, you could top it with a poached egg, a piece of fish or chicken, or even something really meaty like a tender lamb shank or braised beef short rib.
How to cook chanterelles:
- I have found that the best way to cook wild mushrooms is either to sauté them or simply roast them in the oven with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and serve with simple ingredients so their flavor and texture are highlighted.
- If using chanterelles…make sure they are a nice golden apricot color. They should be firm to touch and have no dark or wet parts on them. Their gills should look clean and intact.
- Try not to get them wet. When buying Chanterelles, try to pick chanterelles that look clean and that have less of a pocket at the top and this will make your job of cleaning them much easier.
- Then use a brush (like a basting brush) to gently brush away any debris.
- Using a mixture of olive oil and butter is ideal and gives the best flavor.
What is creamy polenta:
- Creamy Polenta is basically an Italian dish made from ground cornmeal. It’s cooked on the stovetop into a “porridge” and seasoned with olive oil or butter, cheese (optional) and herbs. It’s creamy and comforting- Italian comfort food.
- It can become a base for meat, fish, vegetables or in this case mushrooms.
- Creamy polenta can easily be made vegan!
- You can also make polenta in an instant Pot!
This basic Creamy Polenta recipe works well in other applications too … for example serve with braised short ribs, or pan-seared prawns, grilled Salmon or halibut or even as something as simple as roasted veggies. It’s a good recipe to tuck away because it goes with so many things.
Then taste for salt. Because cheeses have different saltiness, the amount of salt you will need will vary. If you used a flavorful stock you may not even need much salt. But most likely you will need a little.
And here is a lovely ingredient that will elevate your polenta. White Pepper!
Polenta with Wild Mushrooms, Garlic and Sage. A simple EASY vegetarian dinner that can be made in under 30 minutes. Comfort food that is healthy, vegan adaptable and gluten-free! |
- 4 ½ c veggie or chicken stock (or sub water with 1 tsp salt, or sub 2 cups of the stock with milk)
- 1 cup polenta (ground corn meal)
- 1/2 cup cheese-optional (goat cheese, white cheddar, parmesan, romano, vegan cheese) or leave it out!
- 1–2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups wild mushrooms (chanterelles or morels) or sub button mushrooms, cremini, miatake, shittake or portobellos)
- 1–2 tablespoons oil or butter (a mix is nice)
- 1 shallot, diced
- 2–3 cloves garlic, rough chopped
- 2–3 tablespoons wine- totally optional (cooking sherry is nice- sherry wine, not sherry vinegar!)
- 1 tablespoon fresh sage (or sub rosemary or thyme)
- finishing salt
- Garnish- a drizzle of truffle oil ( optional- but worth it! )
- Make the Polenta: Heat the stock in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Once it is boiling, turn the heat down to low and gradually whisk in the cornmeal to the hot liquid while whisking vigorously to avoid any clumping.
- Bring to a simmer, cover and let simmer gently on low heat for 10 minutes, then give a good stir. (Start the mushrooms below!) Cover again, simmer 10 more minutes, give another good stir. If using fine cornmeal, this should be close to done, if using a coarse polenta, you may need to cook a tad longer until grains fully open.
- When the polenta is tender and cooked through, add your choice of olive oil, or butter, optional cheese, white pepper, stirring until fully incorporated. TASTE and adjust salt. Turn off heat, cover until ready to serve.
- MUSHROOMS: While the polenta is simmering, saute the mushrooms. Heat oil over med heat, add shallots, garlic and mushrooms, cook 6-7 minutes until mushrooms release their liquid, lowering heat if necessary. Season with salt and pepper. Let the liquid cook off and allow the mushrooms to brown a little. At this point, you could splash with a little wine, letting this cook-off too- optional. Add the sage leaves right at the end and cook for one minute. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if needed.
- Serve the mushrooms atop a bed of delicious creamy polenta.
- Drizzle with Truffle oil if you want.
I also love adding wilted baby spinach to this for extra nutrients. Feel free to add the spinach to the mushrroms towards the end, letting it gently wilt. So tasty!
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