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  • Recipe Room  »  Polenta with mushrooms and lentils



    • 8 dried porcini or shiitake mushrooms
    • 3 cups vegetable stock
    • 1 cup fine polenta
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 1/2 brown onion, diced
    • 2 celery stalks, diced
    • 1 carrot, chopped
    • 1–2 garlic cloves, crushed
    • 2 cups vegetable stock
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 1 cup puy lentils or tiny blue-green lentils, washed
    • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp dried thyme
    • sea salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
    • 1/2 cup finely chopped basil or flatleaf parsley, or 1–2 bay leaves, to garnish

    Polenta with mushrooms and lentils

    Polenta is ground corn, which is why it is sometimes referred to as cornmeal. It is available finely or coarsely ground. Once considered peasant food by the Italians – as it was cheap, bland and filling – these days we prize it for its nutritional value, lack of gluten and versatility.


    Place the mushrooms in a small bowl, add enough warm water to cover and soak for a few minutes until soft. Drain, reserving the liquid, then slice and set aside.

    For the lentils, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, and sauté the onion, celery, carrot and garlic for 5 minutes until starting to soften.

    Add the stock, bay leaf, sliced mushrooms, lentils and thyme and bring to the boil. Drop to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.

    Taste for seasoning – you may not need any salt and pepper depending on what stock you use. Cook for 30 minutes with the lid half on.

    Meanwhile, bring the stock to a rolling simmer in a large saucepan over high heat and add the liquid reserved from soaking the mushrooms.

    Rain in the polenta and whisk for about 1 minute, or until all the liquid has been absorbed.

    Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, for another few minutes until the polenta has softened and become creamy.

    To serve, spoon the wet polenta into a shallow bowl, make an indentation in the centre using the back of your spoon, and ladle in the lentils.

    Garnish with the extra bay leaves or the basil or parsley.

    Submitted by
    Janella Purcell

    Tips and Tricks

    • Store any leftover polenta in an airtight container in your fridge. Polenta will harden when cooled and can be used in squares or triangles when set. Grill or pan-fry slices or lightly deep fry to make polenta chips. It also freezes well – set and portion out polenta before freezing for easy defrosting.

    • Keep herbs stored in a glass of water and wrapped in a plastic bag in your fridge until ready to use. They should last a week or so stored in this way. Remember to change the water regularly to prevent mould and decay.

    • Puy lentils – also known as ‘French-style’ lentils – differ from other lentils because they keep their shape well when cooked. Use in salads, soups or braise with onion, carrots and celery to very simply make lentils the centerpiece of a new meal.

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