Vegetarian Recipe Collection

Mushroom Polenta
Recipe from
Vegetarian Cooking for Starters

Mushroom Polenta
An excellent company dish, well worth the preparation time.

Mushroom Polenta

Preparation time: 1 hour
Cooking time: 2 hours
Baking time: 1 ½ hours

(Polenta and sauce can be made ahead of time and assembled and baked when needed.)

Mix well:
    2 ½ cups cold water
    1 ½ cups polenta meal (very coarse corn meal)

Add mixture by spoonfuls to:
    2 ½ cups boiling water

Add and stir thoroughly:
    1 ¾ teaspoons salt

Cook mixture in double boiler (uncovered) over medium-low heat without stirring for 1 ½ hours. Butter a deep 8-inch or 9-inch square oven-proof pan and spoon polenta into it. Smooth top of mixture and let cool until firm. When completely set, run a knife along edges and turn out onto a large cookie sheet With a sharp knife or string, split polenta into 3 even layers. Set aside. Meanwhile, prepare sauce and cheese, as follows:

Saute until golden and set aside:
    1 cube butter (½ cup)
    1 ½ large onions, chopped
    3 large cloves garlic, minced

Wash and drain several times:
    1 ½ ounces dried mushrooms

Soak mushrooms for 15 minutes in:
    1 ½ cups water (drain and save water)

Strain the water through several layers of cheese cloth 2-3 times and add, stirring until dissolved:
    2 unsalted vegetable bouillon cubes

Set the broth aside. Chop the reconstituted dried mushrooms, discarding tough stems, and add them to:
    2 cups (packed) coarsely chopped fresh mushrooms
    2 rounded tablespoons finely minced fresh parsley
    1 ½ teaspoons thyme
    1 ½ teaspoons basil
    Scant ¼ teaspoon nutmeg

Add mixture to the sauteed onions and cook for 10 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Add the mushroom broth and continue to cook over medium-high heat until liquid is reduced by ¾ (about 30 minutes).

Then add:
    ½ cup cream
    Salt and black pepper, to taste

While the mixture is cooking, thinly slice:
    ¾ pound Jack cheese

    2 cups grated fresh Parmesan cheese
    ½ cup toasted whole wheat bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the baking dish again and spread the bread crumbs on the bottom. Lay 1 slice of polenta on top of bread crumbs. Cover with 1/3 of the sliced Jack cheese, then 1/3 of the mushroom sauce, and top with 1/3 of the grated parmesan cheese. Repeat the layers until all the ingredients are used, ending with the grated parmesan cheese. Bake covered at 350 degrees for 1 hour, then uncover and continue baking for ½ hour longer. (Dish will be very full.) Please note:If polenta layers fall apart in handling, gently piece them together. When you serve it, it won’t fall apart.

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