I love that polenta is a versatile ingredient that can be used in both sweet and savory dishes for breakfast, lunch or dinner. In this bite sized appetizer, I cooked it until firm and then cut out the shapes with flower cookie cutters. This is a great way to use my favorite dried mushrooms too. Try this appetizer for holiday parties or family meals. Themed cookie cutters would be fun to use for varied shapes: stars, Christmas trees, snowmen etc…..
Polenta is essentially a coarse cornmeal. It is an ingredient that can be used in so many ways. From sweet to savory, for appetizers, breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert, this ingredient is very adaptable. The flavor profile depends on your seasonings. It can be served creamy by adding more cooking liquid or it can be formed into firm cakes like in this recipe. It can be added to baked goods and pancakes as well.
Mini Polenta Cakes with Feta & Wild Mushroom Ragu
Makes about 32 2″flowers
- You can make these bigger if you wish, any cookie cutter shape will do, or you can cut squares with a knife when the polenta is firm.
- 1 cup coarse ground Polenta
- 3 cups Water or Broth (veggie or chicken)
- 1/2 cup crumbled Feta Cheese
- pinch of dried Thyme
- pinch of dried Garlic Salt
- pinch of Black Pepper
- a few large handfuls of Dried Wild Mushrooms: I like a combination of Porcini, Shitake and Chanterelle.
- 1 cup hot broth (to Soak Mushrooms, use the same kind broth you used to cook Polenta above)
- another pinch of Thyme, Garlic Salt & Black Pepper with the addition of Saffron
- splash of Olive Oil
- Chives, finely snipped
Polenta: In a medium saucepan cook according to package directions -or- Bring liquid to a boil, slowly whisk in polenta, and spices. Turn heat to low, stirring continuously. Cook for about five minutes or until it all the liquid is absorbed. The mixture will be very thick. Take off stove once liquid is absorbed. Add feta and combine thoroughly.
Prepare a glass pan or baking sheet with a light coat of olive oil or cooking spray. Transfer polenta to baking sheet and spread it evenly into a 1/2 inch layer. An offset spatula or regular spatula is helpful here. Let it cool completely. You can cover it and put it in the fridge for a little while or just leave it at room temperature. Once solid, cut out your shapes.
Coat or spray a sauté pan with a thin layer of oil. You can use the same pan you will use below for the mushrooms, less clean up. Heat on medium heat and lightly brown each piece of polenta on both sides. They will be slightly crispy on the outside and creamy in the middle.
Mushrooms: In a medium bowl combine dried mushrooms and hot broth. Let them soak for about 20 minutes. Squeeze liquid out with your hands and transfer mushrooms to a cutting board. Dice into small pieces. In a sauté pan lightly coated with oil, add mushrooms and seasonings. Cook on medium heat for a few minutes, until flavors combine and mushrooms caramelize a bit. Add remaining broth to pan and continue to cook until most of the liquid has been reduced.
Assembly: Top each polenta flower with a small amount of wild mushroom ragu. Snip small pieces of chives to garnish tops of shapes.
- You can make larger cakes and serve as a bed under a lean protein choice. Top with the mushroom ragu. Add a side of veggies or a salad.
- No feta on hand? Try some grated Parmesan, romano, cheddar or goat cheese instead.
Polenta Recipe Links