There’s something about cool air and the color of autumn leaves that causes me to start craving comfort foods. I start adding soups and roasted vegetables to our weekly menu, which will often include grits and polenta. I like my grits both savory and sweet, and this simple bowl of homey grits and mushrooms hits the top of my list. They are delicious as a vegetarian entrée for brunch, lunch, or dinner, and you can divide it into smaller servings for a side dish. I adore the leftovers for a hot breakfast.
Ramekins or small gratin dishes are good for baking polenta, but I really like to use Fiesta small pie plates (see photo above). They are about 6-1/2” across and offer plenty of surface area for the cheese to brown and get crispy, the best part about broiling gratins.
I modified a recipe from the book The New Way to Cook Light from Cooking Light, which has over 400 healthy dishes with lots of flavor. The original recipe calls for more mushrooms, but since I like the combination of onions and mushrooms I did that instead. I’ve also made this with coarse grits, which has more texture than instant but of course takes substantially longer to cook.
CREAMY POLENTA (GRITS) WITH SAUTEED MUSHROOMS AND ONIONS
Adapted from Cooking Light.
4-quart nonstick pot with lid
4 gratin dishes
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces (227 g) baby bella mushrooms, slice
1 large yellow onion, sliced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh oregano
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/3 cup (80 ml) vegetable broth
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2 cups (480 ml) lowfat milk
1-1/2 cups (400 ml) vegetable broth
3/4 cup (120 g) instant or quick polenta (grits)
1 cup shredded (100 g) Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1. Warm the olive oil in the large skillet over high heat. Sauté the onions until soft, about 4 minutes, then add the mushrooms and sauté until soft, about 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in the thyme leave, oregano, garlic, and vegetable broth. Keep warm.
2. In the 4-quart pot, bring the milk and vegetable broth to a boil. Stir in the polenta and cook while stirring until the polenta absorbs the liquid, about 4 minutes. Stir in half of the Parmesan and the kosher salt.
3. Preheat the broiler. Divide the polenta among the gratin bowls and sprinkle the remaining Parmesan on top. Broil until the cheese melts and browns, about 5 to 6 minutes. Top each bowl with mushroom mixture and serve hot.
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[Disclosure: I am a member of the Cooking Light Bloggers’ Connection.]