Mushroom & Herb Polenta Recipe

A delish dish from London restaurateur Yotam Ottolenghi. "My father serves half this dish right away in the runny state, like a mash, with a flavourful sauce. The rest he spreads onto an oiled surface and allows to set. The next day he cuts out chunks, fries them in olive oil and serves with a chunky vegetable salad (tomato, cucumber, Romaine lettuce) dressed lightly with red wine vinegar and olive oil. The dish here uses soft polenta, but you may want to double the quantity to follow my father's idea. Note that there are two types of polenta meal (or cornmeal) available: a quick or instant variety and the traditional, slow-cooking one. For most purposes I find that the quick polenta is good enough. Either one can be used for this dish."


4 tbsp olive oil
4 cups mixed mushrooms, very large ones halved
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp chopped tarragon
1 tbsp chopped thyme
1 tbsp truffle oil
Salt and black pepper
2-1/4 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup polenta (instant or traditional)
3 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated
2-1/2 tbsp butter
1 tsp finely chopped rosemary
1 tbsp chopped chervil
4 oz. Taleggio cheese (rind removed), cut into 3/8″ slices


Step 1: Heat half the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.

Step 2: Once hot, add half of the mushrooms and fry for a few minutes, or until just cooked; try not to move them much so you get golden brown patches on their surface. Remove from the pan, and repeat with the rest of the mushrooms and oil. Off the heat, return all the mushrooms to the pan and add the garlic, tarragon, thyme, truffle oil and some salt and pepper. Keep warm.

Step 3: Bring the stock to the boil in a saucepan. Slowly stir in the polenta, then reduce the heat to the minimum and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. The polenta is ready when it leaves the sides of the pan but is still runny. If you are using instant polenta this shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes; with traditional polenta it could take up to 50 minutes (if it seems to dry out, add some more stock or water but just enough to keep it at a thick porridge consistency).

Step 4: Preheat the broiler. When the polenta is ready, stir in the Parmesan, butter, rosemary and half the chervil. Season with salt and pepper.

Step 5: Spread the polenta over a heatproof dish and top with the Taleggio. Place under the broiler until the cheese bubbles. Remove, top with the mushrooms and their juices, and return to the broiler for a minute to warm.

Reprinted with permission from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty (2011 Chronicle Books).