This is a wonderful dish for a buffet side item or a one pot meal. With one bite, you get the tasty, spicy blend of vegetables, and the comforting creamy polenta…yummie-licious! Ok, I created a new word…but that’s how damn good this is!
Shiitake mushrooms are one of my most favorite mushrooms to cook with. Their nutty, earthy, flavor is big and bold enough to satisfy anyone’s taste buds. Shiitakes are always around — fresh, dried and frozen. Yeah, frozen…I found them a few years ago.
Shiitakes fight cancer cells and infectious disease, boost the immune system, promote brain function, and serve as great source of B vitamins. Swiss chard is packed with antioxidants that slow the aging process, help to prevent cancer, heart disease, eye and skin disorders, and a powerful blood sugar regulator…WOWZERS!
And if that wasn’t enough, the tomatoes alone are a major source of lycopene, a famous cancer fighter. Oh, and don’t forget the garlic — another immune booster!
Now to the polenta…you can put just about anything on top of the polenta…ratatouille, Texas chili, white chicken chili, braised short ribs, shrimp creole, sausage and peppers, beef bourguignon, pulled pork, seafood stew…seriously, anything!
If you don’t have polenta, try arborio rice, hominy, quinoa, or farro.
Alright, let’s get going!
- Large 10” sauté pan
- Wooden spoon
- Large, deep, heat-proof casserole dish *
- Chef knife
- Measuring spoons and cups
- Cheese grater or peeler
- Slotted large spoon
- Rubber spatula
- 1/2 C extra virgin olive oil
- 10 oz. shiitake mushrooms, washed, stem removed and sliced
- 1 onion, large, chopped
- 1 T Bottega Calabria Dynamite paste *
- 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 bushels Swiss chard, stems removed and leaves cut in strips or chopped
- 28 oz. fire roasted tomatoes, diced and drained
- 1/2 C Italian parsley, chopped (split into two halves)
- 1/4 C basil leaves, chopped (split into two halves)
- 1 pkg. polenta, three cheese, truffle, or vegetable by Ritrovo *
- 1/2 C + parmesan or pecorino cheese, shaved in large strips
- Sea salt and crushed black pepper to taste
Chef Gerrie’s Notes:
* Casserole dish: Enamel cast iron are my favorite type, Le Creuset is my favorite brand.
* Bottega Calabria Dynamite: This is awesome stuff! It’s an Italian chili, tomato, eggplant, and herb paste. I highly recommend this, but you could also just use plain tomato paste.
* Polenta: Ritrovo selections are delicious, non-GMO, and gluten free. Can be purchased through a number of different dealers.
1. Sauté mushrooms in a large sauté pan over medium high heat after barely covering the bottom of the pan with extra virgin olive oil. Sauté until mushrooms are slightly softened then remove and set aside.
2. Sauté onion in the same pan (you may need to add a little more oil). Sweat the onion until softened and then add tomato paste and combine. Add garlic and cook for a few minutes. Smell that garlic?
3. Add Swiss chard and cook until tender, stirring often. Be sure not to overcook it — you want bright green, tender leaves.
4. Add tomatoes and cook for a few minutes before adding half of the Italian parsley and basil leaves, and salt and pepper to taste.
5. Prepare polenta by following the instructions on the package…bring water to a strong simmer/low boil in a large pot. Whisk in the polenta slowly and continue whisking to avoid lumps. Whisk until polenta starts to thicken — you may want to lower the heat at this point to avoid bubbling and spitting. Stir well with a wooden spoon until nice and smooth before removing from the heat.
6. Assemble your casserole starting with a layer of polenta topped with one-third of the cheese. Top cheese with shiitake, swiss chard, and tomato mixture. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the top.
7. Warm or broil the casserole just enough to melt the cheese. Broil if you’d like to brown your top.
8. Sprinkle with remaining herbs and serve alongside a crusty artisan bread and a nice bottle of wine.