Adapted from meatfreemondays.com and budgebytes.com
To start off, let me just say that you can eat really good food in my college town, Davis, CA. This goes for Café Bernardo as well. My parents and I were surprised when we arrived at this restaurant and found out it was actually part of the Best Western Palm Court Hotel. We were not at all disappointed, however, and we make a point of going there every time they come visit. That said, though many things on the menu sound amazing, I always order the Grilled Polenta that comes with tomato sauce, spinach, portobello and cheese. I was then inspired to make something similar. I found two recipes, which I combined. A very satisfying meal!
Yields 4-6 servings
- 1 cup instant polenta
- 3 cups water
- 1 tablespoon butter
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 12 ounces portobello and shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- ¼ cup fresh rosemary, chopped
- 8 ounces frozen chopped spinach
- 1 cup tomato purée or marinara sauce
1. Grease an 8-inch square baking dish and set aside.
2. Bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan. When the water boils, add the polenta in a steady stream while stirring. Keep stirring until it reaches a soft, creamy consistency and turn off heat. Beat in the butter. Season with salt, cayenne pepper and black pepper to taste.
3. Pour the polenta into the prepared baking dish and set in the fridge for about an hour or until firm.
4. Preheat the oven to 180C (350F).
5. Remove the polenta from the fridge and top it with the Parmesan.
6. Place the polenta in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until the cheese has melted.
7. When the polenta has warmed through, remove it from the oven and cut into squares.
8. While the polenta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes or until the mushrooms are soft and a nice brown color. After 2 minutes, toss in the chopped rosemary and season with salt and pepper to taste.
9. Remove the mushrooms from the skillet, leaving any liquids behind in the pan and add the frozen spinach. Sauté the spinach until heated through and season with salt and pepper to taste.
10. To serve, arrange a couple of baked polenta squares on each plate and top with about ¼ of the tomato purée or marinara. Then add a layer of spinach and finally a layer of the rosemary infused mushrooms. Decorate with sprigs of fresh rosemary if desired. Serve warm.
Comments: This recipe is not at all difficult. After the polenta has been left in the fridge, it is also quite quick to make. By combining two recipes, I tried to pull in my favorite aspects of each recipe to make one great dish. I loved the idea of the rosemary infused mushrooms from the Meat Free Mondays recipe but I wanted the spinach and tomato purée/sauce as well. Instead of just using portobello mushrooms, I also added some shiitake mushrooms. Hope you like it!