Creamy polenta with balsamic mushrooms and onions

By Mary Berg
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A north Italian porridge made of coarsely ground cornmeal, polenta is wonderfully creamy, with a lightly sweet, buttery corn flavour. Step it up with this version made with sweet balsamic mushroom, onions, and served with fine herbs and shaved pecorino. 




  • 4 cups (1 L) low sodium vegetable or mushroom broth
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 1 cup (150 g) yellow cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons (28 g) butter
  • 1/2 cup (50g) grated Pecorino cheese
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, for seasoning

Balsamic Mushrooms and Onions

  • 4 cups (about 450g) mixed mushrooms, roughly torn, sliced or halved
  • Kosher salt, to season
  • 2 tablespoons (28g) butter
  • 1 red onion, cut into thin wedges
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • Freshly ground black pepper, for seasoning
  • 2 gloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoon flour
  • 1 1/2 (375 ml) cups low sodium vegetable or mushroom broth
  • 1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fine herbs, such as parsley, tarragon, basil or chives, plus more for serving
  • Shaved Pecorino cheese


For the Polenta 

  1. Bring the vegetable broth to a boil in a medium pot with a tight-fitting lid over high heat.
  2. Stir in the garlic then slowly whisk in the cornmeal. When slightly thickened, cover the pot with the lid, reduce the heat to low and allow it to simmer until thickened and creamy, 25 to 30 minutes, stirring every five minutes. 
  3. Remove the polenta from the heat and whisk in the butter, Pecorino and parsley. Season with salt and pepper.

For the Balsamic Mushrooms and Onions 

  1. Meanwhile, place a large skillet over medium heat, add the mushrooms and season with salt. Dry sauté the mushrooms for three to four minutes or until they release some of their moisture, stirring frequently. 
  2. Add the butter, onion and rosemary and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the mushrooms are well browned and the onions are soft and lightly golden about five to six minutes. 
  3. Add the garlic and balsamic vinegar and cook until the vinegar has almost bubbled away. Sprinkle in the flour and stir to coat. While stirring, slowly pour in the broth. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened and saucy.
  4. Finish the mushrooms and onions with lemon zest, lemon juice and herbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

To Serve 

  1. Serve the polenta in bowls topped with balsamic mushrooms and onions. 
  2. Top with grated Pecorino and a scattering of herbs. Enjoy!

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