I love polenta, but don’t make it often because all semblance of self-control seems to go out the door as I inevitably always end up overheating. It’s not so much the serving that makes it onto my plate (I won’t lie, it’s bigger than it should be), but more so what I tend to eat while I’m plating and then when I’m storing leftovers.
What can I say? It’s Italian comfort food at its best! I have such fond memories of watching my mom make this classic dish. Its golden colour, beyond creaminess, and extremely satisfying. In our household, it served as a bed for no other than our homemade tomato sauce, what I call liquid gold. Anything else would have been sacrileges.
What you are getting in this week’s recipe is actually two classic dishes
: polenta and pomodoro and pomodoro and oyster mushrooms. What a treat!
Though I make this dish as I was taught in the traditional way, with olive oil, parmigiano, and fresh herbs, I’ve changed it up this time to boost the protein content. Beware, though delicious, my mother would not approve. I kept the olive oil for richness, but instead of the parmigiano, I used nutritional yeast, added hemp seeds for protein, and chives instead of fresh herbs, as the pomodoro is amply aromatized with fresh rosemary, a very nice complement to the oyster mushrooms as well as the pomodoro. My mom was quick to tell me that basil would have, of course, worked better, but I disagree. Fresh basil is classic with pomodoro, but rosemary works better with oyster mushrooms. I’ve convinced her to give it a try.
As for the oyster mushrooms, normally they are sautéed in some olive oil and then the processed tomato wedges get added. It’s delicious, but the mushrooms tend to water down the pomodoro for a more liquidy consistency. I opted to cook both separately and added the mushrooms to the pomodoro at the very end after they were both fully cooked.
Truly, this is one of my favourite dishes and by far my preferred way to serve polenta. It’s creamy. It’s sweet. It’s chewy. So satisfying on so many levels.
|Olive oil||½ cup|
|Mushrooms, oyster||3 lbs (48 oz)|
|Parsley, fresh, chopped|
|Tomato wedges||64 oz|
|Olive oil||½ cup + 2 tbsp (or 10 tbsp)|
|Garlic, crushed, whole||3 cloves|
|Rosemary, fresh||2 sprigs|
|Olive oil||3 tbsp|
|Hemp seeds||4 tbsp|
|Nutritional yeast||1 tbsp|
|Chives, fresh, chopped||10 grams (1/4 bunch)|
1. To prepare the mushrooms, in a large pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add mushrooms, salt, and black pepper and cook until liquid is evaporated and the mushrooms start to caramelize, approximately 30 – 45 minutes. Remove from heat and garnish with parsley.
2. To make the pomodoro, process tomato wedges through a food mill or in a blender. In a medium pot, combine pureed tomatoes and olive oil and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add salt, black pepper, rosemary, and garlic. Cook for 45-60 minutes, or until thickened. The pomodoro should reduce by more than half.
3. For the polenta, in a medium pot, add salt, black pepper, olive oil and water and bring to a boil. Add cornmeal and nutritional yeast. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, using a whisk to stir constantly. Remove from heat and stir in chives and hemp seeds. 4. To assemble, divide polenta onto 4 plates. Top with pomodoro and mushrooms. Garnish with more parsley.