Per curare l’emicrania – Polenta con parmigiano e rosmarino – funghi selvatici e passata piccante di pomodoro

After a gloomy weekend with a terrible migraine, that immobilized me for few days in bed, I decided that I wanted to start the week as best as I could, and of course, when you cannot eat for a few days, the day you are back on your feet, you are starving. The great thing is that my fridge was filled with lots of various ingredients, so I had everything to make this delightful and vegetarian dish…without going to the store.

Polenta is quite a popular meal in Northern Italy, and they consume it as the French eat baguette. They grow lots of corn and they eat what they grow…so polenta is often on the table, and I have seen mainly the white kind, it’s thick, sliced like bread, and eaten as accompaniment to many cold cuts and radicchio (that’s the way I have eaten it at our friend’s place in Friuli). In Lombardia region (Milan), they eat it boiled with milk and at my parents, it’s prepared with a tomato and rabbit sauce, so to each region its own. No matter how you prepare it, polenta is always a delicious and nutritious meal to enjoy.

For this dish, you need as many different kinds of wild mushrooms as you can…I used morels, chanterelles, king oyster, beech mushrooms and shiitake, they bring a wonderful woodsy and nutty aroma to the fragrant polenta infused in rosemary broth. The polenta remains creamy and soft especially if you add mascarpone, and blends perfectly well with the crunchy texture of the mushrooms and smooth tomato coulis. The whole dish is a harmonious balance of sensations.

For the polenta, I used the fine grind, the coarse grind remains too grainy and is less delicate at the bite. Also, there are two kinds of polenta, the express one and the regular one. I always keep both in my pantry and depending on the time I have, I use either one. Polenta express cooks in 10 minutes whereas the regular one takes over one hour. Usually to make polenta crostini I use the express one, but for polenta-based dishes like this one, I use regular polenta.

Ingredients for 2-3

For the polenta

  • 1/2 lb (or 200-250 g) fine polenta
  • 1 tbs rosemary, chopped
  • 2 tbs fresh parmigiano reggiano, grated
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tbs mascarpone (optional)

For the sauté mushrooms

  • 1/2 lb mixed wild mushrooms such as morels, king oyster, beech, chanterelles, shiitake, etc… mushrooms, washed and roughly cut
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 3 tbs dry white wine
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • salt and pepper

For the tomato coulis

  • 3 large ripe tomatoes, seedless and peeled
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp oregano, chopped
  • cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • salt and pepper


For the polenta

Bring broth to a boil, add rosemary, then add polenta gradually, stir and keep stirring until the polenta is cooked and has reached a semi-thick texture. Cooking time depends on which type of polenta you use. When the polenta is cooked, add parmesan and stir well. Add mascarpone at this time of process if you decide you want to add it.

For the mushrooms

Wash mushrooms. Pat them dry to remove excess water, and cut oyster king and morels (if too big) into about one inch pieces. Heat olive oil in a pan, then add shallots. Brown shallots and add mushrooms. Saute mushrooms and cook until the water is half evaporated then add wine salt and pepper. Stir well, let the wine reduce then add garlic. Cook for a few minutes, then remove from heat and keep warm.

For the tomato coulis

Heat olive oil in a pan, add garlic and stir to get the flavor out. Add oregano, tomatoes, cayenne, salt and pepper. Stir well and cook until the tomatoes have reduced. Mix the tomatoes using an immersion blender, then pass it through a sieve to obtain a smooth coulis.

Serve soft polenta in the center of the plate, place mushrooms around it, and end with tomato coulis.