I love polenta – basically yellow corn grits. it works as a great base for any dish, and can even take the place of pasta for a lower calorie dinner option.
I always keep uncooked polenta in my pantry – and use it to make all sorts of things, from mini-ramekin pizzas to jalapeño cheese grits.
We wanted a vegetarian dish this week, so I decided to make some polenta as a base. Mushrooms and spinach are two of my least favorite vegetables, but are so healthy and packed with good stuff that I try to make them at least every once in awhile. Since I love polenta so much, I figured that my hatred for mushrooms and spinach would be dampened. I was right!
Spinach & Mushroom Polenta
This recipe makes about 4 cups of polenta, but we only use about 2 cups for our dinner. It’s okay – because I’ll eat cheese polenta (grits) anytime, so I don’t mind the leftovers. We get two hearty-sized dinner portions out of this recipe.
1 C Uncooked Polenta
3 C Chicken Broth or Water (broth gives the polenta more flavor, but water can be used just as well)
1/2 White Onion, sliced
1 Bag Baby Spinach (about 5-6 C)
1 Box Sliced Mushrooms (about 12-14 oz)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Parmesan Cheese to taste
Balsamic Vinegar, Pasta Sauce, or Spicy Tomato Oil to taste
Toasted Pine Nuts (optional)
First, start caramelizing your onions. This can easily take upwards of 40 minutes, but it’s worth it. Use maybe a teaspoon of oil, and throw your onions into a skillet on medium-high heat until they start to sizzle. Once they’ve heated up, turn the heat down to low, and stir them every five minutes or so until they turn a nice, brown color. You can turn the heat up ever so slightly as they cook, but never higher than medium-low. It takes forever. I think we caved and took our onions off after 40 minutes – they were carmelized enough, but weren’t quite perfect. Be patient, people – it is not a virtue I was blessed with.
While you’re watching the onions, heat up another teaspoon of oil in a different skillet and add your mushrooms with some salt and pepper. Once the mushrooms have given off most of their liquid, add the entire bag of spinach. Saute until the spinach has wilted to your liking.
If you want to use balsamic vinegar and/or pine nuts – add them to this mixture. Cook until the balsamic has mostly steamed off.
Next, add your polenta and broth or water into a saucepan over high heat until it comes to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium-low, and simmer, stirring constantly, until it reaches your desired consistency. This usually only takes about 10 minutes.
Once everything is finished, use the polenta as your base, top with the spinach-mushroom mixture, and then top with your caramelized onions. Pour some marinara sauce or spicy tomato oil on top, and then finish with some parmesan cheese if you’d like. This is a really light, flavorful dinner that is full of vitamins and good veggies. Alex gives this one the thumbs up – and he used to hate mushrooms more than me!