Gourmet Veggie Mama

Tag Archives: Polenta

Creamy Polenta with Kale, Delicata Squash and Poached Eggs

One of my favorite meal formulas this winter is to throw some greens and maybe another veggie on top of polenta, top it with an egg of some sort, and call it a day. The possibilities are endless, and the results are always tasty.

When I was developing meals for Cooking Planit, I knew one of those combos would be perfect, so I started experimenting. Creamy polenta topped with garlicky sautéed kale, roasted delicata squash and a perfectly poached egg turned out to be our winner, and it was absolutely delicious.

creamy polenta

The delicata squash is optional, and in fact it isn’t included in the Cooking Planit meal, since it can be hard to find. You can easily substitute any other winter squash, but I love delicata because it’s pretty and you don’t have to peel it. It’s a win-win.

Head on over to Cooking Planit to find the recipes for this meal, as well as several others I collaborated with them on. Not only will you get the recipes, but Cooking Planit will organize your shopping list and tell you how to order all the steps so can cook your meal efficiently and with a minimum of stress. Can’t beat that!

Creamy Polenta, Eggs and Kale

Okra in tomato sauce with creamy polenta

Okay, so maybe I’ve gone a little okra-crazy lately. ‘Tis the season, though, at least here in the South. While I mourn the loss of most of my tomato plants* and plan to plant my own okra next spring, our CSA continues to provide us with plenty of okra goodness, and I’m just loving experimenting with it.

* Two to mites and leaf-footed bugs, and all but one more to what is likely just the weather being too hot to allow any more fruit to form. Bugger. At least my Sun Golds are still doing well!

I found inspiration via FoodJoy recently in a tomato and okra stew served over polenta. Much as it pained me to open one of my precious jars of tomato sauce, it was perfect for this project, and it made for an oh-so-easy weeknight dinner.

Summery goodness.

This was just the change of pace we needed around here!

Okra in Tomato Sauce with Creamy Polenta
Inspired by this recipe from FoodJoy

1 pint jar of tomato sauce**
1/2 lb okra
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
3 1/2 cups water
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/2 cup milk
4 Tbs unsalted butter

Bring the tomato sauce to a simmer. Wash and trim the okra and cut it crosswise into slices. Add the okra, along with the crushed red pepper and salt to taste, to the tomato sauce. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the okra is tender.

Meanwhile, make the polenta. Bring the water to boil in a medium saucepan. Salt the water generously and then gradually stir in the cornmeal. Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter, cheese, and milk. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the okra and tomato mixture atop or on the side of a generous helping of the polenta.

** Or just make your own tomato sauce by milling and cooking down a few fresh, delicious tomatoes, if you’re lucky enough to have them. 

Garlicky mushrooms and kale

Not too long ago, I stumbled on a list of great kale recipes. I’ve been cooking my way through them, since we’ve been getting a lot of kale through our CSA,* but I have to say, this is my favorite one so far, and probably my favorite use of kale… well, ever.

* Plus I am a confirmed kale addict. Seriously. Love the stuff.

Although the original recipe would make a good side dish, I wanted to make it a meal, so I latched on to both of the review’s suggestions and served it on a bed of polenta and topped it with a poached egg. It was FAB-U-LOUS.

Garlicky, creamy goodness.

I can’t rave enough about this. Granted, my addition of eggs, milk, and cheese is unkind to this dish’s vegan roots, but I couldn’t help it. Just the combination of the creamy polenta, the deep garlicky flavor of the mushrooms, the slight crunch of the kale, and the perfectly poached egg over the top of it — oh my. Try this one out and you won’t be disappointed.

Garlicky Mushrooms and Kale with Creamy Polenta and Poached Eggs
Based on this recipe from Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

1 Tbs olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 large bunch kale, coarse stems removed, leaves sliced or torn into pieces
2 eggs

For polenta:
3 1/2 cups water
1 cup yellow cornmeal or polenta
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/2 cup milk
4 Tbs unsalted butter

Heat the oil and garlic over medium heat in a large skillet or sauté pan, stirring. Once the garlic begins to crackle, add the mushrooms and salt. Let them cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring often, until the moisture has released and the mushrooms are lightly browned.

Meanwhile, bring a large, deep pot of water to boil for the eggs,** and make the polenta. Bring 3 1/2 cups of water to boil in a medium saucepan. Salt the water generously and then gradually stir in the cornmeal. Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter, cheese, and milk. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the kale to the saute pan with the garlic and mushrooms, and cook, stirring, for about 10 more minutes. Add splashes of water if the pan seems dry. The kale should be crisp-tender and cooked down pretty well.

Meanwhile, poach the eggs. Salt the boiling water and turn the heat down until just simmering. Crack the eggs into individual ramekins and carefully slide them one by one into the pot. Simmer for 2 minutes, and then remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.

Serve the kale and mushrooms on the bed of polenta, and top each serving with a poached egg.

** The deeper the pot, the better, since the eggs will retain their shape better. You’ll need at least 6 inches.

Mushroom ragout

After venturing into the crawl space under our house (which serves as an additional wine cellar for us*) to pull out the wines to be drunk in 2012, the hubby was all excited to crack open a bottle of Ridge 2003 Santa Cruz Mountains Estate Cabernet Sauvignon.

*I realize that this is totally ghetto, but we have a wine buying habit with which our storage space just can’t keep up. We tested the temperature during the hottest part of the summer, and it stays cool down there, so why not?

In honor of the occasion, I set off on a search to come up with a vegetarian dish that would pair well with the wine. I found it in a recipe for wild mushroom ragout (which I was easily able to vegetarian-ize) that I served over slices of fried quinoa polenta with a salad. It was excellent, and the pairing was amazing.

Good stuff.

The hubby pronounced it “grand,” so I know it was a hit. The original recipe says it freezes well for later use, so this is something I will definitely make again in a bigger batch.

Wild Mushroom Ragout
Based on this recipe

1 lb mixed fresh wild mushrooms**
1 Tbs unsalted butter
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
3/4 cup vegetable stock
1 tsp Better Than Boullion mushroom base (optional)
1/3 cup cream
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 Tbsp chopped chives

Trim the mushrooms, reserving the stems for another use.*** Slice the larger caps and leave smaller caps intact.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook until tender, stirring occasionally. Add the mushrooms and cook until they release their liquid. Add the stock and cook for about 5 more minutes. Stir in the mushroom base, if using, and cream, and cook until it starts to thicken, about 5-7 minutes. Add thyme and chives, then season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve over polenta or pasta, finishing off with a light dusting of grated parmesan or gruyère.

** I used an 8-oz “Chef’s Sampler” pack of gourmet mushrooms, supplemented with sliced cremini mushrooms.

*** I’m saving mine for either a small batch of mushroom stock, or to throw into vegetable stock (where it adds a nice depth of flavor).

Eggs over spinach and polenta

Although this recipe was originally for a breakfast dish, eggs over spinach and polenta makes a great, easy weeknight meal that you can whip up with stuff you have on hand. I’m so glad a friend introduced me to this meal — I know it’s going to become a staple around here. Plus, poached eggs are totally hot right now. Seems like they’re popping up everywhere!


I used some of my own frozen, homemade tomato sauce. Nice if you have it, but canned works just fine, too. I made a couple of batches of tomato sauce this year, since we had a bunch of tomatoes that needed to be used.

I never get tired of tomatoes.

It wasn’t quite the haul I’ve made in years past, when I bought flats of tomatoes and spent a weekend canning, but I’ll take what I can get.

I did happen upon a good trick, thanks to my resourceful husband, though, and I immediately felt dumb for not figuring it out earlier. Rather than going through the traditional rigmarole of cutting an “x” in the bottom of each tomato, blanching them, plunging them into an ice bath, and then peeling by hand, cutting them in half, and removing the stem and seeds, I used a food mill. I simply chopped each tomato in half, removed the seeds, and then ran them through the food mill.

Buh-bye, skins and stems.

Then I simmered them down with a little olive oil and garlic, and voila, tomato sauce, ready for canning or freezing! Since I didn’t make massive amounts this year, I just froze it in 2-cup portions in ziploc freezer bags, which makes it easy to thaw in warm water.

In any case, whether with fresh tomato sauce or not, this is a keeper.

Eggs over Spinach and Polenta
Adapted from this recipe

1 (16-ounce) tube of polenta,* cut into 12 slices
olive oil or cooking spray**
2 cups tomato sauce
1 (6-ounce) package fresh baby spinach
4 large eggs
1/2 cup shredded parmesan or asiago cheese

Preheat broiler. Arrange polenta slices on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Coat tops of polenta with cooking spray. Broil 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

While polenta heats, bring sauce to a simmer in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in spinach; cover and cook briefly until spinach wilts. Stir to combine. Make four indentations in top of spinach mixture using the back of a spoon. Break one egg into each indentation. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer five minutes or until eggs are desired degree of doneness. Sprinkle with cheese.

Divide polenta slices between two plates, and top each with half of the spinach mixture and two of the eggs.***

*I like to use quinoa polenta for a little extra protein and texture.

**I just used olive oil in my Misto.

***The original recipe says this makes four servings, but for dinner, I think two eggs is a more appropriate serving size. You may not use all of the polenta slices, but they make a great baby dinner, too!

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