Winter Dinner

by Isobel

So I finally am posting some “real” food again. It seems harder to come up with dinner recipes that please everyone than to come up with cookies (I wonder why…). So I often just stick to the same recipes. But I was enamoured enough with this idea to try it out, and it ended up working out really well. So, I present a good meal for a winter night.

And really, no  matter what everyone seems to think, polenta is not difficult to make from scratch, as long as you can stir a pot for 10 minutes. As a warning, though, you do have to make the polenta in advance, and let it sit in the fridge for 20 minutes or so.

Walnut Spinach Polenta Cakes with Mushroom Sauce (serves 4)

1 cup dry polenta cornmeal

1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp walnut pieces, toasted and chopped fine

3 cups chopped spinach

1 lb cremini mushrooms, sliced

1 yellow onion, dieced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

1 can diced tomatoes

1 Tbsp balsalmic vinegar

salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

(1) Cook polenta in a medium saucepan according to regular directions (boil about 3 cups of water, add polenta, and stir constantly). When the polenta is almost done (should be really thick porridge) stir in walnuts, a pinch of salt and pepper, and spinach, and continue to cook until spinach is wilted and polenta is done. (2) Spoon polenta into greased or lined muffin tins (should fill eight) and refrigerate until it has hardened up. (3) Preheat the broiler and place the rack in the upper half of the oven. (4) Add some oil or water to a saucepan. Let heat up a bit, then add the onion and cook until translucent. (5) Add mushrooms and garlic, and cook until the mushrooms soften and begin to release liquid. (6) Add tomatoes, rosemary, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until mushrooms are fully cooked. (7) Stir in the balsalmic vinegar and adjust the salt and pepper to taste. (8) While the sauce is simmering, place polenta cakes on a lined baking sheet and place under the broiler. Cook until nice and crispy. (You can also fry the polenta in a pan with a bit of olive oil – if you do it this way and flip it, it will be more evenly crispy, but takes a bit more effort and stove space.) (9) When polenta is done, place 2 cakes on each plate, spoon the hot mushroom sauce on top, and serve. I served mine on top of a bed of spaghetti squash, but that is up to you.