Best polenta, mushrooms & kale

Field of red leaves.JPG

A quick supper for an autumn weeknight, celebrating some staples of the Northwest. 

Ingredients

  • About a cup of cremini mushrooms 
  • Butter (or substitute olive oil)
  • Olive or canola oil 
  • 1 cup polenta (maybe some special kind, grown near you, with no GMOs! Like the kind sold at People’s Food Co-op in bulk!) 
  • Salt 
  • Kale, just a few leaves 
  • About 1 cup of oyster or other more unusual mushrooms 
  • Black pepper
  • Mustard
  • Beer or wine (optional) 

Slice the cremini mushrooms. Put butter and a small drizzle of oil in a cast iron pan, raise the heat to high and add the mushrooms. Stir to coat, reduce the heat to medium and cook without crowding until they start to color on one side. Flip them with a spatula and cook until colored on the other side. Towards the end, turn the heat back up to high and press down on them with your spatula. The remaining water should sputter out and evaporate, and the edges should crisp just perfectly. Swiftly remove and set aside. 

Cook the polenta in a heavy-bottomed saucepan: mix the polenta with 4 cups of water, 1 teaspoon salt and olive oil, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, stir. When it first starts to really thicken, add the cremini mushrooms and a knob of butter. When it starts to thicken dramatically, reduce the heat to as low as it’ll go and stir in another pat of butter. De-stem the kale leaves and cut them into ribbons. Stir them in, cover the pot and turn off the heat. Let the polenta rest so that the kale can steam. 

Mushrooms, good polenta.JPG

In the mushroom pan, add more butter and oil. Cook the fancier mushrooms in pulled-apart pieces on medium-high heat. Add a drop of mustard, maybe a splash of beer or wine if you are drinking any. Add some salt and a heavy cracking of black pepper. 

Serve the polenta with kale ribbons in a bowl, topped with the fancier mushrooms and a dusting of flaky salt. 

Extra ideas

This kind of dinner can also be made with delicious polenta triangles. This is an adaptation of “Erico’s Easy Polenta,” on the back of the Golden Pheasant bag. 

Ingredients

  • 3 1⁄4 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for frying
  • 1 tablespoon butter, plus more for the dish (or use olive oil)

Butter a ceramic baking dish. Pour in the water. Stir in the salt to dissolve it. Add the polenta and olive oil, stirring to distribute the oil and avoid clumping. Bake at 350 degrees F, uncovered, for 50 minutes. Run a fork through it, spread melted butter over the top with a rubber spatula, and bake for 10 more minutes. Let cool, then cut into triangles. Fry up in oil, and top with mushrooms and kale or other delicious things. Roasted squash, roasted garlic, roasted cauliflower?  Chickpea curry? Ratatouille?