Roasted Mushroom Polenta Bake
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Lukas Volger, author of Bowl and Veggie Burgers Every Which Way, has a new book out: Start Simple. It’s filled with “the types of recipes and tools that will help to make everyday cooking a habit.”
The subtitle sums it up best: “Eleven Everyday Ingredients for Countless Weeknight Meals.”
Included among the eleven everyday ingredients are beans (canned and dried), a stack of tortillas, a head of cabbage, essential hearty greens, crowns of cauliflower and broccoli, a block of tofu, and …
… friends! Can you feel my heart
racing exploding? It’s ALL of my favorite foods.
I felt very distracted flipping through the book the first time around because I wanted to make every recipe I came across. And when I landed on the “pile of mushrooms” chapter, I thought I might lose my mind. I dogeared nearly every recipe — shiitake lettuce cups, skillet mushroom strata, mushroom and radicchio pasta with nutty gremolata, to name a few.
But I kicked off the experiments with this roasted mushroom polenta bake, and I’m so happy I did.
This is exactly the kind of meal I crave this time of year: when I’m done with winter, but when I still need warming, comforting food. When I feel I just. can’t. roast. another. root. (Though I definitely will. Tomorrow.) When I want something hearty, but don’t feel like chopping all day. This, I think, is when mushrooms, meaty and earthy, never pull their weight more.
With minimal prep and chopping, this dish comes together quickly. You don’t even, in fact, have to chop the mushrooms — you simply tear them into irregular shapes. How nice? Then, you dress them with both olive oil and vinegar, and roast them for about 20 minutes.
During this time, the polenta materializes stovetop. When the mushrooms finish roasting, they unite with the polenta along with a sprinkling of fresh thyme and grated parmesan. The pan then returns to the oven, where the roasted mushrooms toast up even more as they simultaneously melt into the polenta, which thickens up further and crisps at the edges. It’s ready when the whole sphere of polenta and mushrooms gently undulates, as though, if given enough time, it might lift up out of the pan all together.
I like drizzling the finished dish with a little more olive oil and cracking lots of pepper over top, and while I think it is delicious as is, I can’t help think about where else it could go? Showered with toasted walnuts? Topped with poached eggs? Loaded with sautéed greens? The possibilities are endless with this perfect simple start.
PS: Oven-baked polenta (a miracle) with poached eggs.
Here’s the play-by-play: Roast about a pound of mushrooms, dressed with olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper, for 15 to 20 minutes or until …
golden and tender.
Meanwhile, pour a cup of polenta into …
… 5 cups of water and bring to a simmer.
In 20 minutes or so, it should be thick and bubbling. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Chop up some thyme.
Sprinkle the roasted mushrooms and thyme over the polenta.
Grate some parmesan over top if you wish.
Return pan to the oven for another 15 minutes.
Serve immediately, passing more parmesan and pepper on the side. A drizzle more of olive oil is nice, too.
Lukas Volger’s Start Simple, such a good one:Print
Roasted Mushroom Polenta Bake
- Total Time: 55 minutes
- Yield: Serves 4
From Lukas Volger’s Start Simple
Mushrooms: I’ve been using a mix of mushrooms, some from the Asian market, and some pre-sliced “wilds” and creminis (also called “Baby Bellas”) from the grocery store. The few times I’ve made this I’ve used more like 1.25 lbs. of mushrooms, so know that you can use a little more if you have them on hand.
Vinegar: Use anything such as white, red, apple cider, or white balsamic, which is what I most often use.
Parmigiano Reggiano: The original recipe calls for drizzling the dish with 2 tablespoons heavy cream right before baking it, which sounds delicious, and should I have some on hand the next time I make this, I will give it a go. I’ve been using parmesan in its place because I always have it on hand, and I mean, mushrooms + polenta + parmesan is hard to beat.
Non-Dairy Substitute: If you are avoiding dairy, you can simply leave out both the cream and the cheese. Lukas suggests drizzling the assembled polenta bake with a bit more olive oil before transferring to the oven.
Other thoughts: I think toasted walnuts or hazelnuts would be a nice addition here, and if you’re looking to add protein, a poached or fried egg would be perfect.
For the mushrooms:
- 1 to 1.25 lbs. mushrooms, any variety or a combination, see notes above
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons vinegar, see notes above
- kosher salt
- freshly cracked black pepper
For the polenta bake:
- 1 cup polenta
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- the roasted mushrooms
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- grated Parmigiano Reggiano, to taste, or heavy cream, see notes above
- Heat the oven to 400ºF.
- Trim off and discard any tough stems from the mushrooms (such as those from shiitakes). Cut or tear the caps into roughly 1-inch pieces. Arrange the mushrooms on a baking sheet (parchment-lined for easy clean-up). Drizzle with the 2 tablespoons olive oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. (I use a teaspoon of Diamond Crystal kosher salt for a pound of mushrooms.) Toss to combine, then spread into an even layer. Transfer pan to the oven and cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until done to your liking. Remove pan from the oven and lower the oven temperature to 375ºF.
- Meanwhile, prepare the polenta: In a large, wide, shallow oven-safe skillet, bring 5 cups of water to a simmer. While whisking constantly, slowly pour the polenta into the water in a steady stream. Whisk for a couple of minutes or until the polenta is incorporated. Turn the heat to the lowest setting. Add a teaspoon of kosher salt. (I use 2 teaspoons of kosher salt, but I love salt, so add to taste.) Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the polenta is thick and the grains are tender. Stir in the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Taste, being careful to let the polenta cool before you do so. Adjust with more salt and pepper to taste. (I add a sprinkling of sea salt at this point.)
- Remove the polenta from the heat. Spread the mushrooms in an even layer over the polenta. Sprinkle the thyme over top. Season with pepper to taste. At this point, if you wish, you can sprinkle the parmesan over top. (See notes above if you wish to use cream instead or omit the cheese altogether.)
- Transfer pan to the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until bubbling at the edges. Shave more parmesan over top if you wish. Serve immediately, passing salt, pepper, and more parmesan on the side. I like drizzling my bowl with a little bit more olive oil, too.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Oven, Stovetop
- Cuisine: American, Vegetarian
Keywords: roasted, mushrooms, polenta, bake, vegetarian, entrée
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24 Comments on “Roasted Mushroom Polenta Bake”
Awesome recipe, and I must investigate the book right away, I have the one about veggie burgers and adore it
Aww thanks, Sally! So happy to hear this. There is a white bean and carrot burger in the book that I am dying to make. I need to check out his other books.
OMG made this tonight Ali, love the thyme top notes. You’re the best, just planted more kale because we can’t live without your kale pasta bake. But this is a close second. Hope all is well.
Laura, hi! I’m so happy to hear this 🙂 🙂 🙂 And to hear from you. We were just talking last night about what we are going to plant this year. It’s so nice having kale on hand. Hope all is well with you, too! xo
Absolutely delicious-perfect on a cold winter evening! Anyone who likes mushrooms would love this recipe. Again, thank you Ali.
Yowza! This was brilliant. But I did make a change – I used your “Oven Baked Polenta (adding the heavy cream and Parmigiano Reggiano towards the end). I then topped with the mushrooms and, of course, more parm and thyme, on top. Would be sooo good with a poached egg and/or greens. In fact, I do have some leftovers…And speaking of which, I’m currently listening to Tamar Adler’s An Everlasting Meal on audiobook. I believe one of your readers suggested it. Have you read it yet? Ah. Good food and good books about food. Life is good. 🙂
So happy to hear this, Lisa!! And YES to an egg. And YES to An Everlasting Meal. I have the Kindle, and I loved it, but I love the idea of listening to it … would be fun to revisit. Life is good 🙂
As usual this recipe was spot on. Loved how simple it was to make and delicious. The timing was exact! As usual this was like no dish I have ever made or eaten and it was a real hit!
As always, thank you!
So happy to hear this, Cheryl! 🙂 🙂 🙂
Ali, this is delicious! I made it tonight, adding a big red pepper, cut into large pieces, to the mushrooms I roasted, and adding fresh chopped sage along with the thyme. I stirred some creme fraiche into the polenta before I topped it with the roasted mushrooms and peppers.
So happy to hear this, Peg! Creme fraiche is a brilliant idea here. Totally doing that next time.
this was delicious, I will definitely make it again
Wonderful to hear this!
This is fantastic! I just tried cooking grits/polenta in my rice cooker, and it works so well — so, I modified for that and added the mushrooms (and some greens) at the end. Everyone loved it! Definitely adding this to the rotation, and will try the egg on top next time (because when is that not a good idea?). I have recently found your site and am excited to try more of your recipes. Thank you!
So nice to hear this, Krista! I don’t have a rice cooker but I love making polenta in my IP, so this makes sense. And, to answer your question: never. It’s never not a good idea to add an egg on top 🙂 🙂 🙂 Thanks for writing and welcome!
Delicious! This method of making polenta in the oven is ingenious! No scorching, no stirring, no burns from the sputtering pot of polenta. Delicious! I used leftover polenta made with this method, and sautéed the mushrooms in a skillet, and then finished in the oven as indicated – with an egg on top! Humble, simple ingredients with an amazing result! I cant wait to experiment with other “toppings.”
Isn’t oven polenta game-changing? So glad you approve, Nancy! Sautéed mushrooms, creamy polenta, an egg on top … doesn’t get much better than that! Thanks so much for writing!
Thanks for the mid-winter inspiration! Last week I made the oven-baked polenta and roasted the mushrooms to eat alongside. For the first night I just had broccoli alongside, but for the second and third nights I made your chicken with sherry vinegar sauce, which was also delicious. Finally last night I reheated the remaining polenta and added sautéed kale and a poached egg. Since I live alone I considered making a half-recipe of the polenta, but I’m glad I went all out. I didn’t feel like I was eating leftovers! The polenta reheats beautifully.
So nice to hear all of this Diana! I’m so glad you went all out on the polenta, too. It’s such a treat with all those brothy dishes you noted. I’m so glad you had success reheating the polenta, because it can be a little tricky after it clumps and solidifies. Thank you for writing!
Home run (again), Alexandra! Such an easy meal to prepare and so tasty! I don’t know how you come up with such lovely dishes. We loved the creaminess of the polenta and are addicted to mushrooms, so this was very satisfying. Didn’t have thyme leaves and this was still great. The addition of sautéed greens would be amazing!! Thank you!
So nice to read this, Hina! I haven’t made this one in ages but I’m craving it now. Might have to happen tomorrow night. Thanks for writing 🙂
I recently made your version of Paula Wolfert’s Oven Baked polenta and don’t think I’ll ever make polenta on the stove top again. I have never had polenta — at home or in a restaurant — cooked more perfectly – it was amazingly delicious. I topped it with your version of Roasted Mushrooms (based on a recipe by Sally Schneider).
I am curious to read your take on how the two versions of roasting the mushrooms compare to each other.
Susanna in Seattle
p.s. Just last week I pulled one of my containers of your ratatouille from the freezer. Ate it with warm pita bread, drizzled with olive oil and Maldon sea salt. I was immediately transported back to August last year. It was a very hot day when I made it and the memory almost made me start sweating!
Yay for breaking out the ratatouille! I think it might be the most perfect food 🙂
I am so happy to hear about the polenta, too. I have to be honest, I have not made this one in ages, but I remember loving it. My guess is that the polenta is not cooked quite as perfectly as Paula’s.
Roasted mushrooms on polenta sounded lovely, but I decided to add some more flavors. Incorporating Nigel Slater’s roasted onions on polenta, I sliced up a red onion. I also added some partly roasted cherry tomato halves (from lousy cherry tomatoes), and some marsala. Roasted together that all went on the polenta. It looked lovely and tasted the same. I also did the polenta in the oven for a really easy meal.