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Creamy Polenta with Mushroom Ragu

Stay warm on a chilly night with this Creamy Polenta topped with Mushroom Ragu. It's rich, hearty and SO cozy! This Italian-Style classic is easy to make and will be on your table in no time!
Course Entree
Cuisine American, Gluten-Free, Italian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 311kcal
Author Melissa Huggins

Ingredients

Creamy Polenta

  • 1 cup polenta (coarse cornmeal)
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth , low sodium
  • 1/3 cup vegan parmesan cheese (*optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt , more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon vegan butter

Mushroom Ragu

  • 2-3 tablespoons grapeseed oil , or any high smoke point oil (more as needed)
  • 12 ounces baby bella mushrooms , dry brushed and sliced (see note)
  • 2 cloves garlic , minced or crushed
  • 2-3 teaspoons fresh thyme , chopped (sub 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary , chopped (sub 3/4 teaspoon dried)
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (*optional)
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup canned diced tomatoes , with juices
  • 3/4 cup vegetable broth , low sodium
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt , more to taste
  • Fresh cracked pepper , to taste

Instructions

  • In a med-large pot, add the water, broth, polenta, and salt. Place on stove over high heat and whisk to combine. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down low to keep a slight simmer. Keep whisking until it starts to slightly thicken, about 1-2 minutes. After that, stir or whisk every 5 minutes to keep the polenta smooth. Cook until thick, creamy and tender, about 20-30 minutes. It should be very thick, but not have big clumps. If this happens, whisk in broth or non-dairy milk to smooth it out.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the vegan parmesan cheese and butter. Taste and add more seasoning if needed. Cover until ready to use.

Mushroom Ragu

  • While the polenta is cooking, you can start the mushroom ragu. Whisk the vegetable broth with cornstarch well and set aside. Now, heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Once fully heated, add oil and wait until it shimmers. Now add about 1/2 the mushrooms in an even layer in the pan (don't crowd the mushrooms or they won't brown). Let them sit undisturbed for 3-5 minutes and then brown the other side.
  • Now push the browned mushrooms to the side of the pan and add the remaining. Repeat the process and add more oil as needed.
  • Lower the heat to medium and add the garlic, rosemary, thyme, and crushed red pepper. Sauté for 30-60 seconds until fragrant.
  • Pour in the white wine and cook for 1-3 minutes or until it mostly cooks off.
  • Whisk the broth/cornstarch mixture again then add it to the pan along with the diced tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Simmer on medium-low until liquid has reduced and thickened slightly for about 6-8 minutes. Place polenta into bowls and top with mushroom ragu. Serve and enjoy!

Notes

You can also use Quick-Cooking Polenta. The method is the same, it'll just take 3-5 minutes to cook. The texture is different than regular polenta, but great if you're in a hurry. If you use this, don't start cooking it until the mushroom ragu is nearly finished. 
The vegan parmesan is optional in this recipe, but I love the flavor it adds. If you can't find it, you can use meltable vegan cheese shreds. Daiya Shreds melt nicely and Chao Slices work well too (I grate the block of slices).
Not all wine is vegan, but there are many varieties out there. Here is a helpful Guide to help you find the right one for you. 
Mushrooms: 
  • Use a dry brush or slightly damp paper towel to clean the mushrooms instead of immersing them in water. They are like sponges and will absorb a lot of water which can make them soggy.
  • It's very important to heat the pan thoroughly before adding the mushrooms or they won't brown properly. I heat the pan for a few minutes before adding the oil so it doesn't burn. Once the oil is added and shimmers, I'll add the mushrooms. They will sizzle and start browning within in a few minutes.
  • Don't overcrowd the pan or the mushrooms will steam and cause a lot of moisture, making it harder to brown them. Instead, sauté them in an even layer in a large pan and work in batches if needed.

Nutrition

Serving: 1bowl | Calories: 311kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 508mg | Potassium: 684mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 336IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 52mg | Iron: 2mg