This was a satisfying and nourishing meal. The texture of the creamy polenta certainly provides a 'comfort' element to the dish. And of course, amidst concerns of GMO foods, I was happy to be able to find this GMO-free brand of instant polenta which made this nutritious and relatively quick to prepare.
When I saw this recipe in the TASTE, BC Liquor Stores FALL 2015 issue, it appealed to me because it looked like it could mimic an almost vegetarian-type meal with just a bit (depending on your idea of bit) of feta cheese. The cheese of course provided some protein, not to mention the yummy flavour!
Now for those diehards who want meat (no names mentioned), you could include some chorizo sausage in this recipe without too much disruption.
Now, I would be COMPLETELY remiss, if I did not put in a plug for us getting at least one daily serving of greens (Swiss chard) in this recipe. At this time of the year, when summer has bid us farewell (for the most part) and autumn is making its presence known, fresh, local greens are a treat. Apparently, Swiss chard is one that grows into the fall season - hooray!
This leafy green (sometimes with a red tinge) provide us with omega-3 fatty acids, the B-complex group of vitamins such as folates, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin and pantothenic acid, as well as vitamin C, vitamin K, and beta-carotene (which converts to vitamin A). Not wanting to be left out, the mineral content is generous, including copper, calcium, sodium, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus.
On a final note, polenta is something I have come to enjoy from our travels in Northern Italy where it is a familiar menu choice. Although, I don't cook it often, it is a nice option to have in your menu repertoire. Of course when I eat it, it brings back wonderful memories of our time in Italy! Hope you enjoy it.
Creamy Polenta with Mushrooms and Chard
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup water
1 cup Italian instant cornmeal (I used Vita Sana - GMO Free)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 large bunch green Swiss Chard
1 T. olive or truffle flavored olive oil
4 T. unsalted butter, divided
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 large clove of garlic, finely minced
4 cups of mushrooms (cleaned, sliced regular mushrooms)
1/2 cup of dried mushrooms (soaked and chopped)*
1 cup of feta cheese
1 T. balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
freshly ground pepper
1. In a large, heavy saucepan put stock, water and salt on stove and turn to medium heat.
2. If using dried mushrooms, soak in a small bowl for 10 minutes in hot water.Next drain them and cover with boiling water and let them continue to soak as you work.
3. Wash and slice regular mushrooms, as well as chopping onion and garlic.
4. Wash Swiss chard and then if you have a lettuce spinner, use this to shake off excess water. I like to take the stem off of the leaves, before chopping the greens into ribbons. I also used the stems, first trimming off and discarding 1/4 inch off the bottoms before chopping in small pieces.
5. Drain soaking mushrooms and chop finely.
6. In a separate large frying pan, over medium-high heat, warm oil and 1 T. butter. Add onions and all mushrooms, cook until mushrooms are tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
7. Turn up the liquids in heavy saucepan to high and bring to a rolling boil and add cornmeal. Be very careful as I found the polenta started to spit back at me and I immediately needed to turn it down to simmer. I cooked it uncovered for just about five minutes, whisking it to prevent clumping. It should start to pull away from the sides of the pan.
8. Next add feta cheese (or cheddar will work) and 3 T. of butter and continue to cook over low heat.
9. Meanwhile, turn the mushroom mixture back on medium heat and add Swiss chard ribbons, stems and minced garlic to pan, just until greens wilt. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and lemon juice.
10. Serve polenta into bowls and spoon mushroom and chard mixture over top. I found my greens and mushrooms had quite a lot of juice so you can decide how much you want to add on the polenta. Season to taste. Because I like my spices I topped mine with a sprinkle of red chili flakes.