roasted wild mushrooms with creamy polenta

Something is happening over here. I’m not sure what it means, but lately I’ve been really into simple meals. Meals you can throw together in less than an hour. Meals you can enjoy after a long day at work. Meals that don’t require a stand mixer or food processor or immersion blender. People ask me all the time if I have any easier recipes. I think I’m finally catching on.

This dish was inspired by a meal I had with Lee a few weeks ago. It involved a mushroom ragout and polenta, kale and a poached egg. I enjoyed it so much that I cleaned my plate and haven’t stopped thinking about it.

I tried one other recipe before finding this one for oven-roasted mushrooms. The mushrooms cook quickly at a high temperature and only need one or two stirs while they roast away. They are totally delicious and perfect on their own but this ultra creamy polenta really is an ideal accompaniment. You could stop there, but if you want something a little more substantial, a poached egg and a little bit of sauteed kale will definitely round things out for you. Either way, you can’t go wrong.

roasted wild mushrooms with creamy polenta

adapted from nordstrom.com and food&wine

serves 4-6

for the mushrooms:

kosher salt

fresh cracked black pepper

1 pound wild mushrooms, stems trimmed (I used a combination of oyster, sliced shiitake, yellow foot, and hedgehog mushrooms)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 shallot, finely chopped

3 sprigs fresh thyme

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 teaspoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

In a large roasting pan, combine all of the mushrooms. Add the garlic, shallots, and thyme. Drizzle evenly with the olive oil and sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Spread the mushrooms in a single layer as evenly as possible to promote even cooking.

Roast, stirring occasionally, until the edges of the mushrooms are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a serving bowl.

Taste the mushrooms and season as needed with salt and pepper. the mushrooms with the remaining salt and pepper mixture, drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with the parsley.

for the polenta:

2 cups whole milk

2 cups water

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup instant polenta (about 7 ounces)

1/4 – 1/2 cup heavy cream**

1 tablespoon mascarpone cheese

3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Salt and freshly ground pepper

**for a lighter, slightly less creamy polenta, add only 1/4 cup heavy cream

In a large saucepan, combine the milk, water/stock, salt, and butter and bring to a boil. Whisk in the polenta and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until thick, about 8 minutes. If your polenta seems too thick, add 1/4 cup water and continue to stir until you’ve reached the desired consistency. Remove from the heat and stir in the heavy cream, mascarpone, and Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper.

to serve:

Spoon the polenta onto plates, top with roasted mushrooms and sprinkle with additional Parmesan and chopped parsley. Serve immediately.

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butternut squash²

butternut squash, tuscan kale, yellow eye beans

These cold weather days call for comforting, effortless meals that make staying indoors more of a reward than a burden.  Fellow blogger M of Little Magazine recently asked me to prepare and photograph a duo of butternut squash recipes created by the super talented Sophie of The Super Taster.  Now that all of those lovely winter squash are abundant at your local grocers and farmers markets, how can you possibly resist them?

One large butternut squash was tossed with olive oil and spices, oven roasted till tender, and divided. The first half of the squash was pureed into a smooth, flavorful soup and garnished with sour cream and fresh sage (which, after it’s closeup, was fried in brown butter).

DSC_0259

Napa grown Rancho Gordo yellow eye beans and sauteed Tuscan kale were combined with the remaining half of the roasted squash and transformed into a hearty and incredibly satisfying dish, which would be an excellent candidate for a Thanksgiving side or equally perfect served as a main course accompanied with rice or farro as recommended by Sophie.

roasted butternut squash, sauteed kale, beans

Not only were both recipes outstanding and easy to prepare, they are extremely versatile (you can use whatever beans or greens you’ve got on hand) and vegan friendly. I will definitely make both dishes again and again. Check out the recipes at LittleMagazine.