Baked Polenta with Mushroom Radicchio Sauté Quickly Becomes a Favorite for Cool and Colder Days
I’ve rediscovered polenta. It’s been years since I first made it the traditional way, standing by the stove, stirring a pot of simmering polenta for 35-45 minutes or more. Yes it was delicious, though it’s easy to understand why it never made it onto my monthly or seasonal recipe rotation. Though with the first taste of wonderfully creamy Baked Polenta with Mushroom Radicchio Sauté and I was won over anew. So much so, that I changed the menu for the Fall Entertaining Cooking Class to include it. Rave reviews all-round.
So luxurious when just prepared. And, almost as good reheated the next day with a bit of vegetable broth for a warming and nourishing breakfast or lunch. Hearty, satisfying and creamy lusciousness for the cool and colder days of fall and winter.
Hands-off Creamy Baked Polenta
Creamy Baked Polenta is hands-off for most of its cooking time. Stir in butter at the 65 minute mark. Corn kernels and goat cheese get a stir into the polenta 10 minutes later. Then just before serving, another tablespoon of butter gets stirred in for richness. And those three times are all the stirring required.
Corn kernels add both flavor and texture
Adding kernels of fresh, frozen (and possibly even canned, though I haven’t tried them yet) corn to the creamy polenta adds another layer of texture and an unexpected sweet surprise in every bite.
What is Polenta?
In short, it is corn porridge, traditionally served in Northern Italy. According to Epicurious, authentic Italian polenta is made from eight-row flint corn, or otto file in Italian. This heirloom variety produces a porridge deep in both color and flavor. Being milled differently than cornmeal, polenta experts remark on its “fuller mouthfeel.”
When unable to find this heirloom corn, substituting medium or coarsely ground (my favorite) cornmeal works wonderfully. I buy organic polenta in the bulk section at our local co-op. And, for those Southerners among us, I’ve heard that grits, which are often ground more coarsely, also make a very acceptable dish of polenta.
Baked Polenta with Mushroom Radicchio Sauté
Thank you Marcia Kiesel for the inspiration behind this recipe.
Creamy polenta gets a makeover from constant stove top stirring to hands-off in the oven. When topped with sautéed crimini mushrooms and balsamic glazed radicchio and greens it becomes luxurious and satisfying.
- Serve Baked Polenta with Mushroom Radicchio Sauté for brunch, lunch or dinner.
- The balsamic vinegar adds a touch of acidity to balance the richness of the creamy polenta.
- And the corn kernels add brightness to each bite with their natural sweetness.
- For the creamiest polenta, timing is everything. Begin baking the polenta 1 hour and 15 minutes before you want to serve it.
- After the polenta has cooked for 65 minutes, begin sautéing the mushrooms.
Makes 6 servings Printer-Friendly Recipe
Active Time 35 minutes
Total Time 1 ½ hours
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
¼ cup thinly sliced shallot
¾ pound crimini mushrooms, cleaned, cut into 4ths or 6ths depending on their size or thickly sliced.
¾ teaspoon sea salt, divided
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves or 2 teaspoons fresh
8 twists freshly ground pepper
8 ounces radicchio, quartered, cored, sliced 1 inch wide (4 ½ cups)
2 medium cloves garlic, pressed or minced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
½ cup or less mushroom or vegetable broth
3 cups packed Power Greens mix of organic kale, chard and spinach
3-4 scallions, sliced on the diagonal (½ cup)
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
- Prepare all ingredients.
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sliced shallots and mushrooms. Toss them with ½ teaspoon salt, thyme and the freshly ground pepper. Cook about 7 minutes, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are tender and the liquid has evaporated. Transfer them to a bowl.
Note: Sometimes, the mushrooms are tender but there is liquid left in the pan. If that happens, drain the mushrooms. Measure the amount of drained (and very delicious) liquid from the mushrooms. Then add only enough additional mushroom or vegetable broth to equal ½ cup.
- Return the pan to the stove over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When hot add the radicchio and garlic. Sprinkle them with ¼ teaspoon salt. Stir fry the radicchio until just tender, about 2 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and toss to coat the radicchio. Stir in the greens and the broth. Cook 1 minute.
- Return the mushrooms to the pan along with the scallions. Cook 1 minute, stirring until heated through.
- Serve Baked Polenta with Mushroom Radicchio Sauté by placing a ladleful of creamy polenta on the bottom of each bowl or plate. Top with some of the mushroom/radicchio/greens mixture, including some of the broth. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley.
Creamy Baked Polenta with Corn and Goat Cheese
Polenta can be served soft and creamy or poured out onto a lightly-oiled baking pan and chilled. When firm, cut the polenta into triangles, rectangles or rounds
for sautéing or grilling.
If you prefer, you can substitute grated pecorino cheese for the creamy goat cheese.
Makes 4-6 servings
Active time 10 minutes
Total time about 80 minutes
1 cup organic polenta
5 ½ cups water
1 ¼ teaspoons sea salt
2 tablespoons butter, divided
¾ cup fresh or frozen, defrosted corn
2 ounces soft goat cheese
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together the polenta, water and salt in a 2-quart baking dish. Put the uncovered dish in the oven and bake for 65 minutes.
- Remove the polenta from the oven. With a rubber spatula, stir in 1 tablespoon of the butter. Taste the polenta.
- If the grains are soft, stir in the corn and the goat cheese.
- If the polenta grains are not quite soft, return the polenta to the oven to cook another 10 minutes. Then stir in the corn and cheese.
- Baked Polenta can stay warm and creamy for another 10 – 20 minutes in a turned-off oven.
- Then just before serving, stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and adjust the salt to taste.