We've been eating a lot of rich foods and meat recently, so I thought it would be a good idea to use up some of the bounty of mushrooms in our fridge and have a vegetarian meal. Had I switched the honey in the ragout for some agave syrup, it could have been vegan, but let's not get carried away here....
Mushroom and Tomato Ragout with Polenta
1/2 lb assorted mushrooms (I used king oyster and buttons)
1 small onion, chopped
salt and pepper
1 15-oz can chopped fire roasted tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
pinch of thyme
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Cut mushrooms into variously-sized pieces - slice button or shiitakes, cut larger mushrooms into strips. This dish is all about texture. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, cook mushrooms and onion in a bit of olive oil and a pinch of salt until vegetables have softened and started to brown. Turn up heat and add canned tomatoes and their juices. When it comes to a boil, turn the heat down to low and allow the mixture to simmer, about 30 minutes. At that point, add the smoked paprika and thyme. Cook an additional 15 minutes then add vinegar, honey, and garlic (I think adding garlic too early on kills its taste somewhat). Cook an additional 15-30 minutes, adding more paprika if your tastebuds want something smokier, until the mixture is thick and the liquid is mostly evaporated.
Serve over polenta. Makes 4 appetizer or 2 main dish servings.
3 cups water or stock
1 cup coarse grain corn meal mixed with one cup water
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
Bring water or stock to a boil. Carefully whisk in the cornmeal/water mixture and bring back to a boil. Turn down heat slightly and continue stirring, making sure all of the cornmeal is incorporated and there are no lumps. When the mixture starts to bubble, cover the pan part way to prevent splattering. Stir every few minutes. Cook 20-30 minutes until polenta is thick and starts to come away from the sides of the pan. Stir in cheese and salt to taste.