Creamy polenta with butter and freshly grated parmesan is topped with roasted mushrooms, blue cheese, and crunchy toasted walnuts. An easy, hearty, and elegant vegetarian dinner!
A lifetime ago, before kids, my husband and I enjoyed a dish reminiscent of this at Union Square Cafe in NYC. To me, polenta with roasted mushrooms screams fine dining and elegance. Don’t be intimidated by this recipe — a bunch of humble ingredients come together in a show stopping way. Let’s walk through it together below!
First – what is polenta?
Polenta is made from boiling finely ground cornmeal (pulverized dried corn) into a porridge-like consistency. It hardens as it rests; once cooled, polenta is firm enough to be cut into squares, fried, grilled etc. For this recipe, however, we’re aiming for a creamy, pourable texture.
What you’ll need!
To roast mushrooms, grab the following:
- baby bellas
- kosher salt
- fresh thyme leaves
- extra virgin olive oil
- sherry vinegar
What you’ll need for polenta:
- fine yellow cornmeal
- kosher salt
- unsalted butter
- freshly grated parmesan
Ok! Let’s roast some mushrooms!
This is seriously easy and takes mere minutes to prep.
Pre-heat oven to 350F. Combine cleaned mushrooms (stems removed from shiitakes, all others are less fibrous and tough, so if you want to leave them on you can!) in a large bowl with shallots, olive oil, sherry, and kosher salt. Place in a skillet or baking dish, then add garlic and fresh thyme.
Bake for ~30 minutes, or until mushrooms are golden brown, have crispy exteriors, and tender centers.
P.S. Your house smells amazing now. Oven roasted mushrooms ‘da best!
Let’s make polenta!
I prefer to use fine yellow cornmeal when making polenta. I like it to be suuuuper creamy. Yes, you can use a coarser ground cornmeal, but it will have a different texture. If you’re cool with that, I’m cool!
To make polenta, bring 4 cups water and 1 tsp kosher salt to a rapid boil in a sauce pan. Whisk in polenta, stirring continuously for a few minutes until it’s absorbed all water. Lower the heat to a simmer, then cover.
The polenta will cook for ~30 minutes. Give it a good whisk every 5 minutes, then re-cover and walk away.
Once finished, add a few pats of unsalted butter and some freshly grated parmesan cheese. Whisk again, then pour into a serving platter!
Is polenta gluten-free?
It sure is! Polenta is made from ground corn, which is naturally gluten-free.
Assembling mushroom polenta
At this point, you’re just combining the various elements. Discard thyme leaves and garlic skin, then top polenta with roasted mushrooms and shallots (and sauce!).
Sprinkle with blue cheese or gorgonzola, crunchy walnuts, then a healthy drizzle of a high quality finishing olive oil and some flaky sea salt.
Can I make this ahead of time?
So here’s the thing: the mushrooms can absolutely be made ahead of time with no real change to texture or flavor from reheating.
With the polenta, YES, you can make it earlier, but you’ll want to reheat it on a stovetop with some water or milk added in to help loosen it up again. Polenta is creamy when it comes off the stove initially, but firms up as it rests. You may need to season with additional salt if you end up adding a lot of water, so don’t forget to taste before serving!!
As part of my Date Night In series, I’m offering up a few wine suggestions to serve alongside.
Red wine: medium-bodied red, such as Pinot Noir or Syrah — the earthy flavors will play off the mushrooms beautifully.
Rose: ALL DAY. I am biased, but I feel like there’s not much rosé doesn’t go with. Look for something dry and not too sweet. AIX is great here!
White wine: rich, full-bodied whites, such as Chardonnay, Viognier, or Sauvignon Blanc.
If you make Creamy Polenta with Roasted Mushrooms, please let me know by leaving a review below!
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For more date night worthy dishes, check out the following recipes, always sure to impress!
BEST EVER braised beef pappardelle (date night perfection!)
7 minute soy sauce eggs with sticky rice (shoyu tamago)
Roasted golden beets with walnuts and arugula
Lamb and mint pasta with ricotta cheese
Easy weeknight slow baked salmon with herb shallot butter
Creamy Polenta with Roasted Mushrooms
For Roasted Mushrooms
- 8 oz baby bella mushrooms cleaned and stems removed
- 4 oz shiitake mushrooms cleaned and stems removed
- 2 shallots thinly sliced
- 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3 Tbsp sherry vinegar
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 head of garlic halved
- 4 cups water
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 cup fine yellow cornmeal
- 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
- ½ cup grated parmesan
- ¼ cup walnut pieces toasted
- ¼ cup gorgonzola or blue cheese
- 2 Tbsp high quality extra virgin olive oil
- ½ tsp flaky salt
To roast mushrooms
- Preheat oven to 350F. Quarter baby bellas, then place in a large mixing bowl with shiitakes and sliced shallots. Add olive oil, sherry vinegar, and salt, then toss to combine. Pour into a a baking dish or skillet, then place garlic halves in upside down. Place thyme leaves on top. Bake for 30 minutes, or until mushrooms are tender and browned. Set aside.
To make polenta
- Combine water and salt in a medium pot, then bring to a rapid boil. Slowly pour in cornmeal, then whisk continuously until smooth, about 2 minutes.
- Turn heat to a simmer, cover pan, and cook for 25-30 minutes, whisking every 5 minutes.
- Remove polenta from heat, then add butter and grated parmesan. Whisk until very smooth, then pour polenta into a large serving bowl.
- Discard thyme leaves, then spoon roasted mushrooms and shallots (and any sauce!) on top of polenta. To use garlic, simply squeeze the cloves out of the skin and add to mushrooms.
- Sprinkle toasted walnuts and blue cheese or gorgonzola on top, then drizzle everything with a high quality finishing oil and a touch of flaky sea salt. Serve immediately.