The South Arm Cooking Club for Seniors meets again for their forthrightly cooking fun. I envied these group of seniors who are filled with enthusiasm and making full use of their retirement. They enjoy cooking, gardening and each others company.
For this week’s cooking session, Charlene picked four recipes from Cooking Light. The seniors are very careful with their food intake and they practice healthy eating. The first recipe is Polenta with Smoky Mushroom Ragout. To our surprise, this dish turns out to resembles lasagne.
The polenta in this recipe is baked in the oven, as opposed to using the traditional method of stovetop cooking. This method frees you from constantly stirring the polenta and you can prepare the mushroom topping while the polenta is in the oven.
This recipe serves 8.
- 6 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups dry polenta
- 1 tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cups chopped onion
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 8 cups sliced oyster mushroom caps (about 1 1/2 pounds)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup red wine
- 1 tablespoon chopped drained canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 (28 oz) can whole tomatoes, drained and chopped
- 1 1/2 cup (6 oz) crumbled queso fresco cheese, feta, or goat cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Polenta, at its most basic, is boiled cornmeal mush, a cousin of grits. Popular in northern Italy, it can be served as a starch to be topped with sauces, or as an accompaniment to meats. Once chilled, it becomes firm and can be sliced and grilled, fried, or layered in casseroles and baked dishes.
Composed primarily of carbohydrates, it is low in fat and a good option for a gluten-free side dish. Many polenta recipes call for copious amounts of butter and cheese, as polenta by itself is very bland, so exercise good judgement while cooking.
Here in Canada, you can use cornmeal to make polenta. The smaller the grind, the quicker it cooks. Traditional Italian polenta is quite coarse, and can take between 20 to 40 minutes of stirring on the stovetop. Cooking for less time results in grains that are more distinct; the longer cooking time results in a creamier consistency.
You can also make polenta using a microwave which I had blogged before here.