Polenta is simple coarsely ground whole corn. To give it the creaminess and richness associated with the dish it's usually cooked in broth, and/or finished with butter.
Not in this recipe!
Here, instead of broth, butter and cheese we use Ayala's Magic Spice to give our polenta lovely color, taste and an extra dose of nutritious value.
Plus: this is a relatively low-calorie polenta version.
The water to polenta ratio is 4:1, and you need a tablespoon of Magic Spice for each 2 cups of water. Adjust the recipe according for the number of people you're cooking for.
For the polenta
- 6 cups water
- 3 tablespoons Ayala's Magic Spice
- 1.5 cup polenta
- salt and pepper to taste (start with ½ teaspoon salt)
- Optional: 1-2 tablespoons truffle oil or grated Parmesan cheese (if not vegan)
For the sautéed onions
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- A few tablespoons of water -- as needed
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the mushrooms
- 1 pound mushrooms (shiitake, oyster, or whichever look good in your market today), cleaned and cut into thick slices
- 1 teaspoon agave
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
For the garnish
- Optional: A few sprigs of parsley or chives
- Optional: Sesame seeds
- Optional: Reduced balsamic vinegar drizzle
- Optional: finely grated Parmesan cheese
Bring water, Magic Spice, and salt to a boil in a large saucepan. Add polenta slowly, whisking constantly, until the polenta is stirred in, wth no lumps.
Lower heat to a simmer, and cook covered, whisking every 5-10 minutes. The polenta will thicken and will be good to eat after 20-30 minutes, but you can continue cooking it for longer, and after 1 hour the taste will improve further.
In the meantime prepare the onions and the mushrooms.
Coat the bottom of a pan with olive oil, heat the pan to high or medium heat, and when the oil is sizzling add the onions. Sprinkle with some salt, and cook. Make sure the onions don't dry out and burn: add a little bit of water every once in a while, and lower heat to medium if needed. Let cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft, brown and their natural sweetness comes through.
For the mushrooms: Preheat oven to 400 °F. Whisk agave, sesame oil, soy sauce and rice vinegar in a bowl or cup. Pour over the mushrooms, mix until the mushrooms are evenly coated, and spread on a baking sheet. Bake for 15-25 minutes, until all the liquids coming out of the mushrooms have evaporated and the mushrooms are nicely browned.
When you're almost ready to serve check the taste of the polenta, add salt and pepper if needed. Add the onions to the polenta, and mix thoroughly. Add truffle oil and/or Parmesan if using.
Plate a serving of the polenta, top with a few spoonfuls of mushrooms, and garnish (optional) with herbs, sesame, reduced balsamic and Parmesan.
If you have leftover polenta, you can transfer it to a baking pan. The polenta will harden as it cools, and it can then be cut into wedges. These slices can be grilled or fried, and make another interesting meal.