Crispy Polenta Slices with Lemon Mushrooms & Spinach

Polenta is made from finely ground corn meal.  It is a great alternative to use for wheat free or gluten free cooking.  I always try to use all organic ingredients where possible, although I understand that this is not always feasible.  I have however stressed organic polenta in this recipe due to the high levels of GMO corn on the market.  Polenta is a great source of dietary fibre and anti oxidant phytonutrients.  It is also high in complex carbohydrates, which means that it is slowly digested by the body and is great for providing long term energy.  When combined with the mushrooms and spinach in this recipe, it creates a dish bursting with protein, minerals, vitamins and anti oxidants.
I don’t really like the texture of soft polenta, but I love it when the mixture is hardened, sliced and shallow fried or baked.  It is so comforting and filling, perfect for winter time meals.  As the flavour of polenta itself is mild, it is a great food for pairing with almost anything, as it will take on the flavours of the other ingredients.  It is therefore a good cupboard staple to have on hand to bulk up a meal if you are low on fresh ingredients.  It goes particularly well with Mediterranean ingredients -I often top it with roasted peppers or a ratatouille sauce.
  • 120g organic polenta
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 10 medium button mushrooms, sliced
  • Handful chopped baby spinach
  • 2 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp herbs de provence
 Boil 750ml of water along with some salt, and then lower the heat.  Slowly pour the polenta in to the water, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens.  Continue to simmer, for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is very thick.  Season with salt and pepper.  At this stage you can add any flavourings you like -dried herbs or spices, fresh finely chopped chillies, garlic, onions etc.  I usually leave my polenta plain and allow the topping to flavour it.  Pour the mixture in to a lightly oiled tin and allow to set in the fridge for about half an hour.  Meanwhile gently fry the onions, mushrooms and garlic for about 8 minutes. Take off the heat and add the spinach, stirring until it has wilted.  Add some lemon juice and cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, as well as the dried herbs.   Take the polenta out of the tin and slice in to whatever shape you prefer.  Shallow fry the slices until crisping.  You could also grill or bake the slices if you prefer.  Spoon the mushroom and spinach mixture over the fried polenta slices.

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