Sunday, 6 January 2013

Fried chili and rosemary polenta with mushroom ragout

One of the reasons I wanted to try a vegan diet for a month was to challenge myself to cook new things and experiment. I've been in a bit of a cooking rut, cooking the same or similar things repeatedly. To get more inspiration, I decided to buy a new cookbook with vegan and/or vegetarian recipes. I went to Waterstones close to Piccadilly circus, one of the biggest bookstores in London. To my surprise, although they did stock quite a lot of vegan/vegetarian cookbooks, none of the vegan books they had were particularly appealing. Most of them had no pictures, and I'm sorry, for me cookbooks are all about raising interest and appetite, and for that I need pretty pictures. Shallow, I know, but that's what I want. Cookbooks are my food porn.

Anyhow, instead of buying a vegan book, I ended up buying River Cottage Veg Everyday by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall instead. And I'm so pleased with this book! Loads of amazing recipes, a third which are vegan and loads of others that easily could be adjusted. In addition, the introduction captures a lot of my own thinking on eating and cooking delicious food with more vegetables and less meat.

I've combined and modified two of the recipes from this book into the below recipe of fried polenta with mushroom ragout. This is a seriously tasty comfort dish, with crisp polenta wedges and a deeply flavourful mushroom ragout. Not a vegan and want to make something really indulgent? Stir in some hard goat cheese, parmesan or mature cheddar in the polenta before you spread it out. The polenta slices would also be great served with a tomato sauce, or eaten as snacks with a romesco or garlic dip.

Fried chili and rosemary polenta with mushroom ragout (serves 4)
1.5 dl quick-cook polenta or semolina
2 dl water
2 dl milk (I used fresh full-fat soy milk)
1 cube vegetable stock
1 tbsp olive oil
1 red chili, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
100 g sweetcorn
salt and pepper

Mushroom ragout
650 g mushrooms (I used a mix of chestnut mushrooms, portobello and large flat mushrooms), thickly sliced
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves chopped
150 ml wine, red or white
150 ml water
1 cube of vegetable stock
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp corn flour
salt and pepper
olive oil

First saute the red chili and garlic for 2 min in olive oil without letting the garlic colour. Add the rosemary and set to the side

Add water, stock and milk to a pot and bring to the boil. Pour in the polenta while stirring. I find it easiest to use a whisk for this

Cook for 4-5 min while stirring until the polenta is quite thick

Remove from the heat and stir in sweet corn and the garlic, chili and rosemary mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste

Tip the polenta on to a cold surface and spread it smoothly into an even disc, about 20 cm thick. Leave to cool completely

While the polenta cools, prepare the mushroom ragout.

Fry half of the mushrooms in olive oil in a large frying pan. When they start to concentrate and caramelise, add half of the shallots, garlic and thyme, and some salt and pepper, and fry for a couple of minutes more.

Transfer mushrooms to the side and fry the other mushrooms in the same way.

Return the first batch of mushrooms to the pan. Add the wine, water, vegetable stock and soy sauce. Simmer for about 15 min until the liquid is reduced to 1/3-1/2.

Stir the corn flour into a little water to form a loose paste, and then stir it into the ragout to thicken the sauce

Taste and add salt/pepper if necessary

Cut the polenta into slices or wedges, brush lightly with olive oil, and fry either in a non-stick pan over medium heat for a couple of minutes on each side until golden, or on a baking sheet under the oven grill

Serve the polenta wedges with the mushroom ragout

Smaklig måltid!


  1. Had some grilled polenta at the the weekend with a beef and chianti stew. I'd forgotten how good polenta can be so will definitely be trying this recipe!

    1. I know, haven't done anyting with polenta in ages either. Stupid really as it's so quick and yummy.