Saturday, September 30, 2023

Savory Polenta Squares with Pasta Sauce and Balsamic Mushrooms

 It must be the shorter days, but I'm starting to think about meals that are heartier. A few days ago I made my favorite Pasta Sauce, which uses fresh zucchini as a major ingredient. The recipe, found HERE, makes a lot, so I still had a fair amount to use, but I didn't want to combine it with pasta.

I remembered a dish that I really enjoyed that I had posted a while ago here on the blog. You can find it HERE. It consists of cooked polenta, enriched with a bit of butter and some Parmesan, poured into a buttered 8-inch square baking pan, with a ribbon of shredded mozzarella cheese and some fresh basil leaves sandwiched in the middle. 

top photo: half of polenta goes into the lined pan, then basil leaves are laid down
lower photos: after the basil, an even layer of shredded mozzarella cheese is added
After that the balance of the polenta is added and the layer smoothed to even it, and then the pan is refrigerated for at least 45 minutes.

You chill this 'sandwich' until it's firm, cut it into squares, then pan-fry it to warm the polenta up and crisp it, plus melt the cheese. Once plated, you spoon some of that lovely pasta sauce over the polenta square. Just like that, it's an amazing meal, but to make it even more special, I added some Balsamic Mushrooms. Any of these recipes are wonderful, but combined, it was a feast!

Balsamic Mushrooms
serves 2-4, but can be doubled 

Approximately 16 medium mushrooms, cleaned and quartered (I used brown criminis)
2 tablespoons olive oil 
1 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (I used the Costco Kirkland brand)
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley

Clean and quarter the mushrooms. Remove any stems that seem too old to eat. Set aside.

In a skillet, heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, dried thyme, dried rosemary. Stir and continue to stir for 1 minute while the garlic not burn. Add the quartered mushrooms and stir to coat with the herbed oil. Cover, lower the heat to medium, and cook for 3 minutes. Uncover the pan, return the heat to original setting, add the balsamic vinegar and stir to coat the mushrooms with the sauce, stirring for at least a minute. Garnish with the parsley and serve at once.

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