Feel free to use any kind of mushrooms you have on hand or can pick up at the store. When I have the choice, I get a combination meaty-tasting mushrooms like crimini, oyster, and shiitake rounded out with white button, but any combination or just one kind works nicely. For a meat-eater's twist, add sausage to the mushroom mixture just before adding the tomatoes.
1 and 1/2 cup water
1 and 1/2 cup milk (whole is best, but any kind will work)
1 cup cornmeal
3/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese, with extra reserved for garnish
About 1/2 lb. spinach, washed and trimmed
For mushroom ragout:
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed or diced
1 lb. assorted mushrooms, sliced
1 large (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 c. red wine (whatever you have on hand)
Fresh basil and thyme to taste, if available, or 1 tsp. each of dried
Salt and Pepper
Add olive oil to a medium skillet or pot over medium heat. When oil is hot, add onion and garlic and stir to coat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to shrivel and onions are translucent and browning, about 10 minutes.
In the meantime, make the polenta. Combine milk and water in a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat. When the mixture comes to a boil, add polenta in a steady stream, whisking continuously. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes. When the polenta mixture becomes solid, mix in the Parmesan cheese and the spinach. Stir to wilt the spinach. Set aside.
Add tomatoes, tomato paste, and wine to mushroom mixture, and turn the heat down to low. Add herbs, salt, and pepper to taste. Allow the mixture to cook down for about 15 minutes, or until the consistency is thick and saucy (but this can sit on the stove on low heat for as long as you have and it will only get better).
Spoon over the polenta and sprinkle with extra Parmesan. Serve with a side salad and crusty bread for dipping.
Thanks Rachel, and good luck! Readers, give Rachel a thumbs up if you like this recipe!