I am sitting at my window, listening to the rain beat down relentlessly outside and nursing my first head cold of the season. With news reports of reservoirs overflowing, dams ready to burst, and triple the normal snow pack in the Sierras, it would seem Mother Nature has put California’s dreaded drought to rest. I’m glad to be tucked inside today with a nice cup of tea!
Too much rain and feeling under-the-weather makes me crave hearty dishes that warm the soul and fight the lingering blahs of these gray, stormy days.
Simple, flavorful one pot comfort foods–like this creamy polenta topped with wild mushrooms, leeks, garlic and spinach–really hits the spot.
I used local organic polenta corn from Green String Farm (which they grind to order at their store), and cooked it slowly in water and milk. I added Point Reyes Farmstead Toma cheese and a little mascarpone at the finish for a creamy consistency and depth of flavor that accentuates the savory toppings. It’s a perfect, satisfying rainy day meal to chase away those winter blues!
CREAMY POLENTA with CHANTERELLES, LEEKS, AND SPINACH
(serves 4) Printable recipe: Farminista’s Creamy Polenta with Chanterelles, Leeks & Spinach
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup whole milk (I used local fave, Clover Sonoma)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup organic ground polenta
- 1 cup Point Reyes Farmstead Toma Cheese, grated
- 3 Tbl. mascarpone
- 2 Tbl. butter
- additional salt to taste
- 1 tbl. extra virgin olive oil
- 5 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/2 pound wild Chanterelle (or other mushrooms of choice), sliced
- 2 large leeks, cleaned and white part thinly sliced
- 1/8 cup dry vermouth or white wine
- 5 oz. fresh baby spinach, washed
- 2 teaspoons fine aged Balsamic vinegar (I love 25 Star Dark Balsamic from Hue De Laroque Farm)
- sea salt and ground pepper to taste
For the polenta:
- In a medium saucepan, bring water and milk to boil over medium-high heat. Add the salt.
- Gently whisk the polenta into the boiling water/milk mixture in a steady stream.
- Reduce the heat to low, and continue whisking until the polenta is fully incorporated and thickens slightly.
- Cover and continue simmering for 30 minutes (softer, porridge-like consistency) to 40 minutes (thicker consistency), whisking every 10 minutes. *This is the time to start cooking the veggies!
- Stir in mascarpone and toma cheeses and butter, mixing to thoroughly incorporate. Serve immediately, or cover the pan and let sit for up to 15 minutes before serving.
While the polenta cooks, prepare the veggies:
- Add olive oil and sliced garlic to a large sauté pan over medium heat. Stir and cook the garlic for 1-2 minutes, or until it just starts to brown, then remove with a spoon and set aside.
- Add leeks to the pan and sauté until softened (about 3-4 minutes). Add mushrooms and continue cooking as they release their juices (another 3-4 minutes).
- Add vermouth to deglaze, and the fresh spinach. Add reserved sautéed garlic. Toss mixture gently. Reduce heat to low and cover to wilt the spinach (about 1 minute).
- Season with salt and ground pepper to taste.
- Ladle hot polenta into a bowl and spoon the veggies over the top. Enjoy with a glass of wine!
Note: Leftover polenta will solidify and can be sliced and pan-fried. To make it creamy again, warm it with a little water, and stir vigorously.