I think its the approaching cold weather that automatically makes me want to cook and eat comfort food. Whether its a stew with dumplings, a chunky soup or polenta with roasted vegetables, I love being able to get extra vegetables into my diet. Its such a simple and satisfying way of cooking. Leaving things to stew for an hour or 2 till they melt in your mouth and fill the house with delicious smells.
Last week I made a very simple polenta and roasted vegetable dinner but decided to make double the amount of polenta that I needed so that I could use the other half with a creamy mushroom sauce that I was planning on making.
I apologies for the lack of measurements in this post but its worth just following the cooking instructions on the packaging for the polenta. You can use quick cook or just regular polenta, there doesn't seem to be any difference in them apart from the cooking time so for ease I would recommend the quick cook. When your polenta is ready its nice to stir in some cream cheese or parmesan for a little extra flavour. I then separated the polenta into 2 dishes so that I could put 1/2 aside to set and use later in the week (leave to cool in the dish and then cover with foil and keep in the fridge) With the other half I baked it in the oven for around 15minutes at about 170C just so that it went slightly firm as I don't like polenta when it is really runny then served with my roasted vegetables on top.
For the mushroom sauce, peel and finely chop some shallots and garlic, this depends on how much you want to make. I made quite a large batch and I wanted some stock piled for the week. Saute in some olive oil until translucent. Whilst that is cooking chop your mushrooms. I used a mix of fresh chestnut and forestiere mushrooms plus a pack of dry wild mushrooms that I rehydrated in some water.
Add the mushrooms to the garlic and shallots along with the liquid that the dried mushrooms were sitting in season to taste and cook on a medium low heat for around 15-20 minutes till the plan is filled with a lovely mushroom juice. You can also add herbs when you season, I added a Mediterranean mix of dried herbs but you can use whatever you fancy. When the mushrooms are cooked turn the heat to the lowest setting and add the cream so it just covers the mushroom and leave to simmer for 5-10 minutes till the cream starts to turn a little brown. Whilst that simmering remove the polenta from the fridge, cut into slices and fry for a few minutes on each side. Serve the mushrooms on top of the polenta for a great starter or alongside the rest of your meal. We ate it with homemade burgers and a cabbage salad. If you have any mushrooms left over they are great eaten on toast or with some nice bread.
note- This mushroom sauce is the thing that finally got Tim into eating mushrooms so, even if you're not a huge fan of them give this a go, you'll never know!