Here's a thing about vegetarian food.... if you buy really lovely fresh wild and interesting mushrooms for this recipe, they might set you back around £3 - £4 (for 2 portions). That sounds like a fortune to me, particularly for a speedy weeknight supper like this. But hang on a minute... if you were a meat-eater buying, say, two chicken breasts or fillets of salmon they would, (and should), cost significantly more, and might not be considered an indulgent treat, but simply the cost of an everyday meal.
What's my point? Well firstly to flag up that this isn't a low-budget supper, but is all about showing off those mushrooms, so will be at its best if you wait until you can get hold of some lovely ones rather than using those week-old soggy ones at the back of your fridge.
But also that that I try not to feel too guilty about using relatively expensive vegetarian or vegan ingredients from time to time, (think dried porcini, walnut or even truffle oil, fresh figs, handmade pasta, etc.) because my weekly shop is usually so much cheaper than that of an 'average UK shopping basket', if such a thing exists.
I've written/ranted before (here) about restaurants who charge almost the same for a veggie option (say, mushroom risotto or a simple pasta dish) as they do for meat and fish dishes for which the raw ingredients (quite rightly) cost seven or eight times more, at least.
But it's vulgar to talk about money, so here's a lovely way to make the most of some super-duper mushrooms if and when you can find them, and I hope you enjoy it.
This is a vegan dish, so the richness and creaminess of the polenta comes from nut milk (I used almond milk) rather than the more traditional version laden with cream and cheese. I like it, but let me know what you think.
Thyme Polenta with Garlicky Wild Mushrooms
- 2 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
- 2 cloves garlic peeled and crushed
- 200 g fresh mushrooms of your choice cleaned and halved or cut into bite-size chunks (I used a supermarket variety pack of oriental and wild mushrooms)
- salt & pepper
- 300 ml nut milk I used almond
- 300 ml boiling water
- 3 tsp vegetable stock powder
- 100 g instant polenta
- 30 g dairy-free margarine
- 3 tbsp fresh thyme leaves removed from their stalks
- In a large frying pan, heat the oil and add the garlic. Add the mushrooms and cook for 3-5 minutes until turning golden brown but still retaining some bite. Season well with salt and black pepper, then remove from the heat and set aside.
- Bring the nut milk, water and stock powder to the boil in a large-ish saucepan. When it is boiling vigorously, remove from the heat, stir vigorously to create a 'whirlpool', then pour in the polenta in a steady stream, stirring constantly.
- Return the pan to a gentle heat, then continue to stir for a further 1 minute. Remove from the heat again, stir in the margarine and thyme, and season well with salt and black pepper.
- Plate up by dividing the polenta between two plates, smoothing it into circles, and topping with the mushrooms. Sprinkle with a little remaining thyme.
- Helen’s Saucy Mushroom & Polenta Bake from Family Friends Food
- Penelope’s Dairy-free Cheesy Polenta Chips from Penelope’s Pantry
- Dannii’s Baked Garlic Polenta Fries from Hungry Healthy Happy
...or hop over to my Pinterest board Gorgeous Grains: Quinoa, Bulgur, Barley, etc: Vegetarian & Vegan