Polenta with Garlicy Greens and Sauteed Mushrooms

Last night was my first meal as a vegetarian.  It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while – all but the absolute leanest meats seem to take their revenge on me for daring to consume them, so I’ve decided to cut meat out of my diet.  For a month.

I’m hoping I can find a way to still eat fish, and maybe some chicken in the future.  But for now, it’s off the menu.

Rob is understandably less than thrilled by this turn of events.  He’s not a huge vegetable guy, and when I asked him what he thought of me becoming a vegetarian he gave me the sort of look usually reserved for questions such as “do you want that colonoscopy without anesthesia?”

Unfortunately, he didn’t love tonight’s dinner.  The garlicy greens are made with Swiss Chard, which is quite bitter.  It wasn’t my favorite flavor, but I thought the meal was actually quite good in general.  I wonder if a longer soak in cold water would have reduced the bitterness of the Swiss Chard, but I really have no way of knowing. (It occurred to me as I was typing out the recipe below that I forgot the spinach… that might have diluted the bitterness some.)

The mushrooms were absolutely amazing cooked with fresh garlic, I’d never thought to add garlic to mushrooms before.  They were also pleasantly easy to cook.

Polenta with Garlicy Greens
recipe by Jack Bishop in The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook

Instant Polenta
1.5 lbs red-veined Swiss Chard
1.5 lbs fresh spinach
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
6 medium cloves of garlic, slivered
Salt and Pepper
2 T butter

1. Cook the polenta as directed.

2. Remove stems from chard and spinach and tear into pieces.  Wash repeatedly in clear cold water until all dirt is one.  Shake leaves to remove excess water, but do not pat dry.

3.  Heat oil in large saucepan, add onions and saute over medium heat until translucent.  Add garlic and cook until golden.

4.  Add greens to the pan and coat with oil.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Cover and cook, stirring occasionally until greens are tender, 5-7 minutes.

5.  When polenta has finished cooking, stir in butter, add more salt if needed, and serve.

Sauteed Button Mushrooms with Garlic and Herbs

1 lb white button mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
3 T extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and Pepper
1/4 cup minced fresh herbs (I skipped these)

1.  Heat oil in large skillet.  Add garlic and saute over medium heat until golden.

2.  Add mushrooms and raise the heat to medium-high.  Stir often.  Cook until golden brown, about 8 minutes.

3.  Season with salt and pepper then serve

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2 Responses to Polenta with Garlicy Greens and Sauteed Mushrooms

  1. Cas says:

    That looks yummy. I saw and tried something like it a while ago and it still stands out as one of the best combinations ever — polenta, greens, and mushrooms. You just about can’t go wrong there. Mmmm.

    I’ve managed a mixed relationship with a vegetarian and non-vegetarian for about seven years. It’s very do-able 😉 But I think my situation’s worked largely because I’m okay with vegetarianism even if I’m not one and I happen to be the one cooking. Maybe you can make menus with him? Get a starter list of stuff he’ll tolerate and work from there?

    If it helps: Cheese (esp. strong-tasting hard cheese like Parmiagiano-Reggiano or sharp Cheddar) tames bitter greens incredibly well. Salting bitter food a half hour before cooking draws out some bitterness too (rinse or wipe clean before cooking). Some recipe books will tell you to parboil or blanch bitter foods for a few minutes, then drain the water and proceed as the recipe directs. (In the Deep South, bitter greens of all sorts were easily conquered with liberal dousings of condensed cream of mushroom soup, but there are distinctly better ways to do it.) I love oil-roasted kale with sea salt, but Adam won’t touch it, ironically. He’d live on tater tots and bean burritos if I’d let him. For a vegetarian, his diet is pretty awful if he’s left to his own devices.

    Are you okay with at least cooking meat, even if you can’t eat it? Pastas with optionally added meats or veg casseroles with breaded cutlets or something might be in your future, kind of like me in reverse 😉

    • tospinayarn says:

      I have no problem cooking meat. I have a problem cooking meat and not eating it! Rob agreed to try a few weeks with no meat, and then slowly add fish and chicken back into our diet to see if that bothers me. Thanks for the de-bittering tips! I’ll have to try that when I make Kale this week. 😀

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