Sunday, December 21, 2014

Recipe Redux: The Flavor Bible Mushroom Walnut Polenta Appetizers

A post-year celebration is due, because Recipe Redux has been taking over your feed on the 21st and 22nd of each month, for 42 months now!! And since 'tis the season for (drinking) party games, we were each challenged to grab a cookbook on page _42 and make it healthier.

So I dug through all my cookbooks, and then I went home home and dug through all my mom's cookbooks and couldn't find any recipe that fell on a page "42" that inspired me, nor that I could improve. Because I do not take cookbook buying lightly, and if it's in my house, it is trustworthy and healthy (my definition of "healthy" that is…). I savor cookbooks and literally read them front to back. (Whether I actually make the recipes, or follow them is debatable). (Have I mentioned that baking is not my forte?)

I know that my strengths lie neither in creating nor following recipes, but rather in improvising with what's at hand. That's why I bought my new bible. Literally. the Vegetarian Flavor Bible. 

And what do you know, page 242 contains one of my favorite vegetables, the earthy mushroom. A polarizing plant, I adore shrooms for their unami (meaty) taste, pliable texture and versatility. Now the deal with the Flavor Bible is that it recommends not only how to cook each food, but also what to pair it with. Pairings are ranked by how many experts would recommend it. 

One multi-pairing stuck out to me because no way have I ever mixed mushrooms and nuts. 

Mushrooms + Garlic + Leeks + Lemon + Walnuts 

And then above, it was highly recommended to pair mushrooms with polenta. (And I didn't have leeks on hand, so I used scallions. What did I just say about following recipes? Can't even follow a damn improv!)

So I decided to whip up an appetizer (because my dad loves appetizers. And then I ended up working 'til 6:30 and totally missing his dinner. Sorry dad! They're good as leftovers I swear!). I added dried porcini mushrooms because a little goes a long way in enhancing the flavor of plain ol' crimini mushrooms. It's actually super quick to whip up. You'll be teasing appetites in under 35 minutes.

Mushroom Walnut Polenta Bites 
Serves 8
  • 1/2 oz dried porcini mushrooms
  • 6 cups water 
  • 2 cups polenta 
  • 1tsp salt 
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil 
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 8 oz brown baby bella crimini mushrooms
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • Chopped chives (optional garnish)
  1. In the morning or before you start making your meal, soak the dried porcini mushrooms in a bowl of water for at least 30 minutes. Rinse, roughly chop and set aside. 
  2. Bring water to a boil. Add salt and polenta. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  3. Heat olive oil over med-high heat in a cast iron (or thick bottomed) skillet. Add garlic and scallions, and cook until lightly brown. 
  4. Add crimini mushrooms and sea salt. 
  5. Saute, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms begin to brown 
  6. If it's been 20 minutes, remove the polenta from heat and smooth with a rubber spatula onto a baking sheet. Let sit until mushrooms are done. 
  7. Add walnuts and lemon juice to mushrooms. Cook for 5 more minutes
  8. Cut polenta into squares, and top with a spoonful of mushroom + walnut mixture. 
  9. Serve with chopped chives!
Note: You can also make the polenta the morning of, so all you have to worry about when you get home from work is saut√©ing this mushrooms. easy peasy. 
I do recommend these cookbooks, and sticking to their recipes as much as you possibly can:

For delicious recipes and meal inspiration:

For technique:
What's YOUR favorite cookbook? 


Elana @ The Inventive Vegetarian said...

Wow, these look amazing! Also, the Flavor Bible is the best thing ever and I'm so excited to hear about/eventually get my hands on the vegetarian version! Thanks so much for sharing!

SErena said...

Love how you improv-ed on the improv! (: And I want to make this for NYE!

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