Tuesday, November 13, 2012
I’m in denial that it’s November already. My daughter has been sending me snow pictures from Montana, so I’m having a hard time staying in my happy place where it is still summer, my daughter is home, and we are swimming and eating outside. And, to make matters worse for my state of denial, we set our clocks back last week. A sure sign of the changing season.
I’ve always had a hard time when we change the clocks back. While I do like the extra light in the mornings, I don’t like it getting dark so early, and I really don’t like feeling I’m late for everything. My body clock must be really tuned into the sun.
To counteract the panic I always feel trying to get dinner on the table the first week of the time change, I decided to make a couple of meals on Sunday (when I had an extra hour) to get a jump start on the weeknights ahead.
One of the dinner’s I made on Sunday was adapted from Rachel Ray’s Week in a Day. I’ve made other recipes from her show, and they were successful with my family. I saw Rachel make this mushroom casserole while I was visiting my daughter in Montana. It looked so delicious; I wanted to try it when I got home.
I made a couple of changes to the recipe, but the main change was to take out the milk from the polenta. I like this polenta recipe, and if you want to make the casserole vegan, you can easily do it by omitting the cheese.
Les and I loved this casserole. My son ate it, but it wasn’t his favorite. The mushrooms were rich and meaty, and with the polenta and cheese topping it, the casserole was a filling and satisfying meal. Mushroom Casserole would be a good dish to make during the holidays for your vegetarian friends.
Adapted from Rachael Ray’s Week in a Day
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
1 package dried porcini mushrooms, about 2/3 cup
24 ounces crimini mushrooms, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 carrot, finely diced
1 onion, chopped
freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
½ cup Marsala wine
1 cup stone ground whole grain polenta (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
½ cup parmesan cheese, optional
1 cup shredded smoked mozzarella, optional
In a small pot, add the porcini mushrooms and 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer to reconstitute the mushrooms, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and set the mushrooms and water aside.
While the dried mushrooms are cooking, heat the ¼ cup olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the crimini mushrooms, and cook until browned and tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add the garlic, rosemary, thyme, carrots and onions, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Cook for 7 to 8 minutes, stirring often. Add the Marsala to deglaze the pan. Add the reconstituted dried mushroom and the mushroom cooking liquid, making sure not to pour in the grit from the bottom of the pot. Transfer the mushroom mixture to a 10-12 inch casserole dish.
While the mushrooms are cooking, whisk the polenta into 2 cups of water in a small bowl. In a large saucepan, bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, add the soaked polenta whisking to combine, and add 1½ teaspoons of salt. Stir the polenta often, and cook until the polenta is thickened, smooth and fully cooked, about 20 to 25 minutes. Add warm water if the polenta thickens too quickly. Stir in the olive oil, parmesan cheese (if using) and ½ teaspoon pepper.
Spoon the polenta over the mushrooms in the casserole dish. Top with the smoked mozzarella (if using). Cover the casserole with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until the cheese is brown and the casserole is bubbly, 10 to 15 minutes more.