Parmesan infused creamy polenta squares, topped with garlic sauteed spinach, thyme & balsamic sauteed mushrooms, and bubbly & melted cheese! And then served with a perfectly poached egg on top (optional).
These Spinach and Mushroom Polenta Stacks are as flavourful as a vegetarian meal could ever be and as impressive as anything you’d be served at a restaurant!
Remember this Polenta Lasagna Bolognese? That perfect cold winter night meal with layers of cheesy goodness, polenta infused with flavourful bolognese sauce, the hidden vegetables? There’s so much that I loved about that dish that I think we may have gone a little overboard with the polenta after that because we couldn’t stop eating it.
And that my friends is how we arrive at these Spinach and Mushroom Polenta Stacks today! This is the result of another one of my sneaky attempts at making my husband eat a vegetarian meal, and I almost pulled off the impossible! You see, the dude loves his vegetables, but is still quite leery when it comes to a meal that doesn’t have any meat component. I know right? And he was half way through enjoying this one, before he even realized it and boy was he surprised! 😀 These were right up there with this Roasted Eggplant Caponata with Brown Butter Pasta, and these Roasted Kumquats, Tomatoes and Asparagus as some of his favourite vegetarian meals!
So if you’re looking for an awesome vegetarian meal that’s as impressive as it is delicious and comforting, then these mushroom polenta stacks with spinach and cheese should absolutely be on your menu!
Yes, it takes a little longer than pasta or rice, but the great thing about polenta is that you can make it in bulk and store for later. Like for this mushroom polenta stacks recipe. You can of course use instant polenta which would make this recipe even quicker, but if you do have access to good stone-ground polenta, I definitely recommend it. The flavour is so much better, so much so that you don’t even have to add any additional flavouring (like butter or stock or cheese), although I did flavour it some here for even better results. But with instant polenta, you’d have to add a lot more of it to coax out any flavour.
So once the polenta is cooked, you transfer it to a sheet pan, spread it evenly and then let it cool down and set (a couple of hours at room temp., but quicker in the fridge). While it cools, you cook the mushrooms and spinach on the stove. Once the polenta has set, you cut squares and assemble the spinach, mushrooms and grated cheese on top and then into the oven it goes for 20-30 minutes until the polenta is heated through and the cheese is bubbly and melted! Then remove from the oven, stack two polenta squares as shown in the pictures and serve with maybe a poached egg on top and chopped herbs for a truly spectacular vegetarian meal that’s dripping with flavour!
Creamy polenta squares infused with a touch of Parmesan, topped with garlic sauteed spinach, and thyme & balsamic sauteed mushrooms and grated cheese! Maybe even a perfectly poached egg on top and some chopped herbs? I mean just look at this. These mushroom polenta stacks are perfect for dinner parties, weekend dinners or even a fancy week night meal. Vegetarian doesn’t always have to be just risotto or boiled vegetables you know?
You could even freeze the assembled mushroom polenta stacks (minus the cheese) for later and then on the day you need ’em, just sprinkle the grated cheese on top and bake. These are classic flavour combinations, but together they make for an extraordinarily delicious, cozy and impressive vegetarian meal!
Spinach and Mushroom Polenta Stacks
Polenta (adapted from Serious Eats)
- 1 cup stone-ground polenta
- 5 cups water
- 2-3 tbsp butter
- 2 oz Parmesan cheese grated
- Salt to taste
- 1 lb sliced baby bella mushrooms
- ½ onion sliced thin red or sweet yellow
- A few sprigs of thyme
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tsp chilli flakes crushed red pepper
- Salt to taste
- 1 ½ lbs fresh spinach leaves
- 4 -5 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tbsp butter
- Salt to taste
- 8 oz grated cheese I used a mix of Monterey jack and mozzarella
- PREVIOUS DAY - soak the stone-ground polenta in water OVERNIGHT.
- Line a quarter sheet pan with parchment paper, or alternatively you can butter it generously. Set aside.
- Add the soaked polenta and ALL of the water to a large pot, and bring the water to a boil on medium heat, stirring occasionally.
- When the water comes to a boil, stir the polenta till it becomes thick and starts to “spit” and bubble.
- Reduce the heat to simmer the polenta and whisk/mix frequently until it thickens and starts to come off the sides of the pot (about 30-40 minutes).
- Add salt (to taste), butter and Parmesan cheese and stir until the cheese and butter have mixed through.
- While still hot, spoon the polenta into the prepared sheet pan and spread it evenly. Cover with parchment paper and let it cool completely.
- While the polenta is cooling in the pan - Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C, and prepare the Spinach and Mushrooms.
- The polenta will thicken and set once it’s cold. Next, remove the polenta from the sheet pan, and cut it into 6 - 8 squares.
- Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat.
- Add the thyme and onions and sautee until the onions soften.
- Add the mushrooms and a generous pinch of salt and increase the heat to medium high. Sautee the mushrooms until they have softened and caramelized a little. Add the balsamic vinegar and more salt to taste. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes until the mushrooms have soaked up the balsamic vinegar. Place the mushrooms in a bowl and set aside.
- Return the pan to the stove to cook the spinach. (You don’t need to clean the pan in between).
- Add the chopped garlic, a pinch of salt and butter to the pan and heat over medium high heat.
- When the pan is hot and the butter has melted, add the spinach in batches, wilting each batch before adding the next. Fold the spinach through the butter and garlic to mix well and then remove from the heat once all the spinach has wilted. Set aside.
- Place the cold, cut polenta squares on a parchment paper lined baking tray.
- Divide the spinach equally on top of each polenta square, followed by the mushroom mix. Top each with some grated cheese. Sprinkle some salt on top and bake in the oven for about 20-30 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and melted.
- You can serve two squares per person stacked on top of each other with a poached or fried egg on top (optional) and some chopped herbs (dill or thyme).
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