I made these Polenta and Mushroom Bites as a pre-dinner snack last Sunday using some beautiful pine mushrooms I found at my green grocer.
Pine mushrooms are very delicious, but hard to get and, at $24kg, I almost had to mortgage my house to buy them. I must say though, they were worth every dollar! Pine mushrooms grow under pine trees during Autumn, hence their name. They are a vibrant saffron colour, have a firm texture and nutty flavour. Combined with other mild mushrooms, they make a great topping on golden crunchy baked bites of polenta.
When I can’t get pine mushrooms, I use porcini and Swiss brown mushrooms mixed with some white button mushrooms, for a tasty combination.
What you need
- 2 cups water
- ½ cup polenta
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin oil
- 400g mixed mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme sprigs – chopped
- 2 garlic cloves
What to do
Bring the water and salt to the boil in a heavy saucepan.
Slowly add the polenta, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon to keep it smooth.
Continue cooking over moderate heat, stirring frequently for 15 – 20 minutes, or until the polenta comes away from the sides of the pan.
Use a little oil to grease a shallow rectangular baking dish, then pour the polenta into the dish and allow to cool and set.
Cut the polenta into 3cm x 6cm rectangles.Place the polenta pieces on a baking tray lined with baking paper, drizzle with a little oil and bake in a 200°C oven for approximately 20 minutes, or until golden.
In the meantime prepare the mushroom topping by gently wiping the mushroom caps with paper towel to remove any dirt, remove the stems and slice thinly.
Use the back of a knife to flatten the garlic cloves.
Heat the olive oil in a fry pan and add the garlic. Allow to infuse over medium heat for 2 minutes.
Add the mushrooms and cook until they soften, approximately 3 -5 minutes depending on the type of mushrooms.
Remove and discard the garlic cloves and sprinkle the chopped thyme, salt and freshly ground pepper over mushrooms and stir through.When ready to serve, top the hot polenta bites with the warm mushroom mixture and serve immediately.