I feel like I’m taking crazy pills. Is it fall?! It has rained nearly nonstop for the last four days and I’m wearing boots and warm sweaters. It’s been a dreary week around these parts, made all the more depressing by the fact that tomorrow May begins. Did you know there are people in the States who are wearing shorts right now, Switzerland? You’re drunk, Switzerland. Get it together.
We had a few weeks of light fare to complement the warmer temperatures and longer days, but now it’s back to comfort food. This meal is definitely something I could get behind in January and February but I’m feel a little embittered that it’s the end of April and I’m still making hearty dishes.
It would be a pity if my shameless rant put you off your dinner because this was one fine meal, my friends. It was what we like to call “stupid good” and if you too are suffering from less than ideal temperatures getchaself some of this baked polenta.
We served ours with a side of grilled chicken,* but I think a number of proteins would be good here. A poached egg would be a delightful choice, as would a high-quality steak. I think grilled salmon would even work well if you were really feeling it. Shrimp? Why not?
For wine we had a Beaujolais because we are participating in the New York Times’ wine school and are committed to doing our homework. It was vibrant and fresh and worked nicely with acidity of the tomatoes and sharpness of the feta. My aunt suggested a buttery Chardonnay, which would play nicely with the polenta so if you’re more of a classy white wine kinda person please do tell how it turned out. Furthermore, I have to note again how helpful the book What to Drink with What You Eat is. It was a gift from my aunt and uncle and is definitely the most clutch player in our kitchen (besides the immersion blender). I would highly recommend ordering a copy for yourself, but it would also make an awesome Mother’s Day gift if you’re in the market.
Here’s the original recipe for the polenta bake, but I’ve also written it here with more US-friendly measurements.
Polenta Bake with Mushrooms and Tomatoes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 6 (4, if you’re ambitious)
- 1 cup instant polenta
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 cups hot chicken or vegetable stock
- 1/4 cup finely and freshly grated parmesan cheese
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- 2 cups mushrooms, chopped or thinly sliced
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
- handful of arugula, optional (not pictured)
- fresh basil, chopped (not pictured)
- Preheat the broiler to high.**
- Melt butter in a medium-sized, oven-proof pan over medium heat. Once melted add the polenta and stir to incorporate.
- Slowly add the hot stock, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Continue whisking until the polenta has thickened and begins to bubble, about 4-5 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir the parmesan through. Season well with salt and pepper. Top the polenta with the mushrooms, tomatoes, and feta.
- Put the pan under the broiler for 10-12 minutes, until the tomatoes have burst and the mushrooms look wilted. Feta should just begin to brown.
- Remove from oven and let sit for a few minutes before adding arugula and basil to serve.
**Our oven runs pretty hot so I actually preheated the oven to about 450 degrees F and let it bake for about six minutes with the oven door closed. I then cranked up the heat and let it sit under a high broiler for about 5 more minutes, with the oven door cracked open. Adjust according to your oven’s peculiarities.
*I just want to note that this phrase should be some indication of our portion sizes. The polenta was not the side dish here, the individual chicken breasts were. Must be those growing Alpine appetites!