If you’ve poked around this blog before, you’ll know that I pretty much shove vegetables into my dinners wherever I can. (See butternut squash mac & cheese, pesto pasta with zucchini noodles and cauliflower fried rice.) It’s the only way that my husband will eat his vegetables, I swear. Well, this cauliflower polenta is another prime example of my cooking philosophy.
Despite the pound of cauliflower that I added to the recipe, the cauliflower flavors don’t overwhelm the polenta. The melted butter and cheese add richness and help make the dish taste like a proper polenta. I suppose a tiny bit of butter and cheese can fix anything!
Mushrooms are in season right now, so I paired the cauliflower polenta with some sautéed shiitake and maitake mushrooms. These mushrooms have great flavors that can stand out on their own. If these mushroom varietals are not easy for you to find, the good ‘ol cremini mushrooms will work well in this dish, too.
MASTER MY MISTAKES / COOKING NOTES
- Rice the cauliflower in batches: Resist the urge to just throw all the florets into a food processor and blitz everything together. You’ll probably end up overcrowding the bowl and have a couple of large chunks of cauliflower that won’t break down.
- Leftovers: Because there’s a lot of cauliflower in this recipe, you might notice some water building up in your leftovers. I usually just drain the liquid.
- Vegan option: Leave out the cheese and use vegan buttery spread instead of regular butter.
KITCHEN TIP: HOW TO CUT CAULIFLOWER
Cauliflower Polenta with Japanese Mushrooms
- 1 head of cauliflower*, should yield about 1 pound of florets, see note
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup (140g) fine grind cornmeal
- 4 cups (950ml) vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon porcini mushroom powder**, optional, see note
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup (55g) shredded white cheddar cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 ounces (115g) shiitake mushrooms, rinsed and sliced
- 4 ounces (115g) maitake mushrooms, rinsed and sliced
- chopped chives
- red pepper flakes
- freshly ground pepper
- Cut cauliflower into florets. Working in batches, add florets into a food processor and blitz until you get fine cauliflower rice.
- Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the minced garlic and let that cook for about 30 seconds to release the fragrance. Next, add the cauliflower rice and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add the cornmeal and the vegetable broth and stir to mix everything together. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let everything simmer for about 20 minutes. If you find that all the liquids have evaporated before the cornmeal looks softened, add water, about 1/2 cup at a time and stir to distribute the water. Add the thyme, porcini mushroom powder, butter, cheese and salt and stir until the ingredients have melted. Turn off the heat and cover the pan with a lid while you cook the mushrooms. The cornmeal will continue to absorb all the liquids.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a separate pan. Add sliced mushrooms and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Sprinkle a small pinch of salt on top.
- Dish up cauliflower polenta into bowls and top with some mushrooms. Sprinkle some chives, red pepper flakes and ground pepper on top. Serve immediately.
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