Spring is a time for renewal and with Easter and Passover upon us, it is a time to reflect on the importance of friends and family. Making time for family meals and celebrations is essential but times have changed. Not only do we have to factor in everyone’s schedule but we also have to manage our guests’ preferences and dietary restrictions from vegetarian to vegan to gluten or dairy free. This is why it is exciting when you can find a dish that covers all bases without being bland or medicinal and this creamless polenta certainly covers all bases with its rich texture and earthy, meat-like flavor.
This dish can serve as a main course for your vegetarian/vegan guests or as a side dish with spring lamb, brisket or ham and be the ultimate crowd pleaser for any celebration.
Ingredients For the Polenta:
4 oz polenta
1 cup seasonedfork garden stock
1 cup soy creamer
1 tbsp EVOO
1 tsp Salt
1 tbsp of chopped Italian parsley
1 tbsp of Chives or scallions
1 tsp of fresh Thyme
1/2 tsp of finely chopped celery leaves
Ingredients for the Fricassee of Mushrooms:
¼ lb. chopped fresh East End Shiitake mushrooms, or any other local mushroom
½ shallot, sliced
1 cup seasonedfork Garden Stock
2 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
Truffle Oil or other seasoned oil to taste
For the polenta: Add the garden stock and soy creamer together in a medium sauce pan and heat to scald. Add salt to taste, and, off the flame, add polenta slowly while stirring. Lower heat, return pan to stove, stir regularly for 45 minutes and then add the chopped herbs and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes. Keep covered.
For the mushrooms: Add olive oil to sauté pan, heat until almost smoking, then add shallots. When the shallots start to caramelize, add sliced Shiitake or other local mushrooms. When the Shiitake begin to exude their juices add the cup of garden stock and cook over medium-high heat until reduced by 2/3.
To finish: Set sautéed mushrooms on top of polenta and pour juice from pan over the top. Garnish with snipped fresh herbs. Have serving dishes of freshly grated parmesan cheese on the tables so that your friends who are not vegan can enjoy some along with this flavorful polenta.