April 13, 2011

Warm Mushroom Salad with Crispy Polenta

We hope you're not tired of polenta (or other forms of cornmeal), or of mushrooms, because we've been eating (and posting) about both a lot recently, and this recipe was so good that we couldn't resist sharing it with you.

Don't you love it when you think you have a really good idea, and you try it out, and it turns out that you were right? This is one of those times. I made the first version when Michael was out of town last weekend (I think it might be a sign that I'm growing up that I no longer just cook macaroni and cheese when my husband is away). I wanted something tasty and not too heavy, and this really hit the spot. I told Michael about it when he got back and we tweaked it a little bit, and found it to be a perfect little lunch. If you're into mushrooms, and not tired of polenta, that is.

Warm Mushroom Salad with Crispy Polenta (serves 2)

- 2 cups cooked creamy polenta (half the recipe we described in our ratatouille post)
- Olive oil and/or butter, for cooking
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1/2 pound wild mushrooms (we used portobello and oyster)
- 2 sprigs thyme
- Salt and pepper
- 2 cups arugula, loosely packed
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- Crème fraîche, for serving

First, butter a baking dish to hold and chill your cooked polenta - we used two five inch round dishes. Make the polenta and pour it into your prepared dish(es), then refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour (if you're in a big rush you'll be able to cook the polenta sooner, but be aware that the less time it chills the more likely it will be to fall apart. This won't really be an issue for taste, but if you're concerned about presentation or, like us, have a strange compulsion to take pictures of your food, you should take this into account.)

While the polenta is chilling, prepare the arugula salad. In a medium bowl, make the dressing by whisking together the olive oil, lemon juice, dijon, and salt and pepper (or make your own preferred dressing). Add the arugula and parmesan and toss. Set aside.

Now get the mushrooms ready. Wash and chop all the mushrooms. Heat some olive oil (or butter, if that's how you roll) in a medium skillet, and when it is hot, add the garlic, thyme sprigs, and mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms have started to brown and all the liquid has evaporated (about 10 minutes). Season with salt and pepper, then discard the thyme. Set aside (either keep it on low heat while you cook the polenta, or warm it just before you serve).

Time to crisp the polenta! In a skillet large enough to fit your piece(s) of chilled polenta, heat enough butter or oil to just cover the surface over medium high heat. Carefully pop the polenta out of your baking dish and into the pan. Things might get a little splattery here so we kept a large pot lid on top while we cooked. Cook until the bottom of the polenta is brown and crisp (3-5 minutes), then flip until the other side is also brown and crisp.

Plate the polenta, then top with the arugula salad followed by the mushrooms. Spoon on a dollop of crème fraîche if you like (or if you happen to have some left over from last week's baking adventure).


  1. You need to submit this on Food52's mushroom contest! Seriously! This looks so yummy :) :)

  2. Funny you should mention that! http://www.food52.com/recipes/11137_warm_mushroom_salad_with_crispy_polenta

  3. just had some A-MA-ZING hen of the woods mushrooms @Gather tonight. I'd love to try them in this recipe.

  4. That sounds like a tasty idea, Margi. Let us know how it turns out!

  5. This was such a great recipe. I stumbled upon your website, saw this picture and had to make it. It was delicious and so simple!


  6. Thanks Jenny - we're glad you found us!