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