Friday, November 29, 2013

Pumpkin Polenta With Balsamic Glazed Gorgonzola Mushrooms

A steamy bowl of pumpkin polenta is topped with perfectly caramelized mushrooms glazed in balsamic vinegar. And just to send this dish totally over the edge, it's topped with rich gorgonzola cheese. A glass of red wine on the side is a must.
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 There are so many reasons to absolutely love this time of the year.
Devouring things like a big bowl of polenta topped with cheese is right there at the top of the list.

Polenta is one of my favorite things to eat. It's easy, quick, and guaranteed to be comforting. But one thing it's not, is diet food. 
I ain't eating the stuff in bikini season, that's for sure!
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Since I'm using any excuse to include pumpkin into every single thing I'm currently pumping out of my kitchen, I thought I'd add it to this polenta. The resulting flavor is deliciously creamy without overwhelming you with the flavor of pumpkin. 
I had some fresh and dried mushrooms on hand, so decided to caramelize them, glaze them with a fig balsamic I had on hand, and top them with the ever indulgent gorgonzola cheese. 
Heaven in a bowl!
Dried mushrooms have a more concentrated earthy mushroom flavor. I love them, but if you don't have them, you can simply use all fresh mushrooms.
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This meal comes together within thirty minutes. While the polenta is cooking, sauté the mushrooms. By the time you have your glass of wine poured, it's time to serve up.
This Thanksgiving, I'll be thankful for stretchy pants!

Pumpkin Polenta With Balsamic Glazed Gorgonzola Mushrooms
Serves 4

4 cups water
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 bay leaves
1 cup polenta
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup grated parmesan
2 oz dried porcini mushrooms
1 cup boiling water
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
8 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 oz gorgonzola cheese

Place dried mushrooms in a medium bowl. Pour boiling water over mushrooms and allow to sit for thirty minutes.
Drain mushrooms, reserving the broth, and coarsely chop.
Make the polenta:
In a medium sized pot, stir together water and pumpkin. Add the bay leaves and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Stir in polenta. Lower heat to low and stir frequently for 20 minutes, adding the mushroom broth if necessary, until polenta is fully cooked. Remove bay leaves and stir in butter and parmesan. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Pour in olive oil and when it starts to shimmer, add mushrooms. Leave mushroom undisturbed for 2-3 minutes before turning. This will allow the mushrooms to sear and caramelize. Turn the mushrooms, again leaving them undisturbed for 2-3 minutes. Toss in the reconstituted mushrooms, continuing to cook until they are done. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and pour vinegar into pan, scraping up the browned bits. 
To serve, spoon polenta into bowls and top with mushrooms. Crumble gorgonzola over each serving.

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