Announce this with a flourish ….polenta alla griglia con fungi brasati e spinaci… as you present this dish to your guests at the table, alighting appetites for the woodsy flavors of wild mushrooms and spinach set atop a wedge of warm grilled polenta.
Splendid as starter, a main course, or topping for a pizza, and easy to prepare before the guests arrive so you can enjoy an evening of lively Italian food with your guests without a lot of last minute preparation.
You can prepare the mushrooms & spinach ahead of time and hold at room temperature while you grill the polenta, reheating just before serving.
Chilled polenta wedges brushed with olive oil and grilled. (Posted in Basics)
Braised Mushrooms & Spinach: Serves 4
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 pound assorted wild mushrooms (portobello, button, shitake, or other), thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon lemon thyme leaves
- 1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms (if available); soaked for 20 minutes in warm water, drained, and squeezed dry, reserving the soaking liquid
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 ½ cups finely sliced green onions including the tender green shoots
- 1 pound of baby spinach, well rinsed, stems removed and leaves torn in half
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- ¼ cup Marsala wine, or (if using porcini mushrooms) add 1/4 cup of the soaking liquid and 2 tablespoons of Marsala
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- olive oil for drizzling
- thinly shaved Parmegiano
- freshly ground black pepper
Heat the olive oil and butter in a large saute pan on medium heat until bubbling. Add the sliced mushrooms and lemon thyme and saute until the mushrooms release their moisture and begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the porcini mushrooms (if available), the garlic, sliced green onions and saute for several minutes until the garlic begins to color. Add the spinach leaves and toss with the other ingredients until the spinach begins to wilt. Add salt and freshly ground pepper and toss. Add the Marsala wine, or 1/4 cup porcini soaking liquid and 2 tablespoons of Marsala, and toss and cover the pan with a lid and cook for 3-4 minutes. Remove the lid and toss until most of the liquid is reduced and absorbed into the mushrooms. Remove the pan from the heat and add the lemon zest and lemon juice. Toss well and taste adding additional salt if needed.
Place the warm grilled polenta wedges on serving plates and arrange the braised mushrooms & spinach on top of the polenta. Drizzle with a little olive oil and arrange shaved Parmegiano on top. Grind some black pepper over all and serve.