Monday 8 February 2010

Polenta rounds with wilted spinach and roast mushrooms

Over the weekend  I discovered a new diet. I came to the realisation that the easiest way to curb your appetite and lose weight is to watch the television series Man vs. Wild. In each episode, a British guy called Bear is stranded in a region of the world and shows you how to survive and find your way back to civilsation. As fascinating as it all is, it's pretty gross, especially when it comes to what he eats.... Let's just say there are usually live animals involved - frogs, snakes, fish.. You name it, he eats it, cooked or uncooked. And it doesn't do much for my appetite.. in fact, it pretty much kills it.

Alas, Mr Ladybird is a diehard fan of the show, so somehow I still end up still watching it, albeit often peering through hands and screaming "Ewwww...!". So with Man vs. Wild a regular part of evenings in the Ladybird household at the moment, the size of our dinners on those evenings miraculously decreases, at least for me anyway. On such an evening, I decided I wanted to make something small with polenta. Polenta is one of those ingredients I really love but don't use enough, so I wanted to change that.

I decided to make polenta rounds topped with wilted spinach and delicious roast mushrooms. So here is a 'kinda-sort-of' recipe to this dish...

This part of the dish can be made ahead of time, even 1 or 2 days ahead and stored in the fridge. This recipe will make a medium size slab of polenta which you can use for this dish, as well as others of your own creation. For example, polenta rounds topped with a fresh pesto and a slow roasted balsamic tomato, or you could even have some grilled polenta alongside some eggs, etc for a hearty savoury brunch.

500 ml water
500 ml milk
30 g parmesan cheese, grated
1 tsb butter
175 g polenta
salt and white pepper

1. In a heavy-based saucepan, bring milk and water to boil and then whisk in the polenta until thoroughly mixed.
2. Reduce the heat to very low and simmer for 40 mins, stirring occasionally to stop it sticking.
3. Remove from heat, season, and mix through parmesan and butter.
4. Pour into a greased tray to set, smoothing to make it as flat as possible. It should be about a 2 cm thickness (I used a brownie tray and this worked well).
5. Allow to cool, then cut out two rounds with a food stack ring or egg ring.
6. Fry in a small amount of olive oil in a pan, turning once. Alternatively, brush with a little olive oil and cook on a griddle/chargrill pan unti lovely grill marks appear.

I made the mushrooms by quartering button mushrooms and tossing them in a dish along with 2 crushed cloves of garlic, fresh thyme, olive oil, a small knob of butter and salt and pepper. I roasted them for 20 mins at 200 degrees celcius, and then crumbled a little dodoni fetta over the top and mixed through. The fetta lended a nice salty flavour to the mushrooms, and the creaminess of the fetta formed a light sauce when mixed with the pan juices.

Wilting spinach is really quick and easy, and a good way to pack lots of healthy spinach into a meal with minimum fuss. In a large pan heat a drizzle of good olive oil and throw in a generous couple of handfuls of washed baby spinach leaves. Season and toss until the spinach is wilted, then remove from heat and use immediately.

To assemble the dish, carefully top cooked polenta pieces with wilted spinach and then mushrooms and a sprig of fresh thyme. Using a food stack ring may help. These are available from kitchen supply stores. Bon appetit!

Hope you all have a wonderful week :)

Ladybird x


  1. LOL at watching Man Vs Wild as a weight loss strategy. Mr NQN loves this show and he's skinny as a rake so perhaps you're onto something! Oh and thankyou so much for my necklace! It's SO adorable! :D

  2. That dish sounds delicious! So is Bear Grylls. My BF hates me watching it and drooling over Bear!

  3. Bear Grylls would never eat this !!!! but he would die for one !!!! Gosh can you just imagine him running into your beautiful polenta in the middle of the sahara ??

  4. I've avoided Man vs Wild because of the gross bits, but maybe I should start watching.
    Love how you've arranged the mushrooms on the polenta, very elegant.

  5. How delicious this looks!!! Ive gone off mushrooms for some reason at the moment, but I think roast tomatos would be just as good in their place...or until i get my mushroom mojo back ;)
    The polenta looks so delicious and crispy too mmmm, thanks for sharing the recipe!
    About what you were saying about the TV show, i think hypnosis for weight loss or food addiction they make the person associate the food with things like worms or eating chocolate associated with poo etc. Funny how the mind works isnt it.


  6. Wow, this looks so professional in presentation! Love the lightly glistening mushrooms, mmmm...

  7. Wow- what a perfect weekend breakfast! looks fab and a different take on mushroom bruschetta, one of my favourites!

  8. Every time I see Bear bite into a live fish/grasshopper/frog, I think of you ;)

    Your blog is looking great, Anna!

  9. Your polenta stack looks like something I would see in a first class restaurant. Beautiful presentation.

  10. Bear has such perfect teeth! everytime he bites into something disgusting i look away and stare at his teeth.. but your polenta rounds look awesome!

  11. Looks delicious! I love polenta and it's even better topped with mushies!

  12. Your polenta dish looks so pretty! I'm loving reading your blog!

  13. How many does it make

  14. 175 grams is how many ounces?

  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

  16. How many servings does this recipe produce ?


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