Pan-Roasted Mushrooms Over Cheesy Polenta | culture: the word on cheese
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Pan-Roasted Mushrooms Over Cheesy Polenta

Pan-Roasted Mushrooms Over Cheesy Polenta

This vegetarian dish can be served as a hearty winter meal for a small group or as an elegant first course for a larger gathering. Be sure to choose a cheese that will complement the earthy mushrooms and melt without separating.
Servings 6


  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup coarse-ground cornmeal
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ¾ cup grated melting cheese
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter chilled
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup finely diced white onion
  • 4 cups assorted mushrooms stems removed and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 large garlic cloves minced
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup toasted pine nuts or pumpkin seeds
  • Baby greens for garnish


  • In a large saucepan, bring broth to a boil. Slowly pour in cornmeal, stirring constantly. Once polenta has returned to a boil, reduce heat to low and let mixture simmer, stirring often, for 10 to 20 minutes, until polenta thickens slightly and grains become soft.
  • Stir in milk and continue to cook for another 7 to 9 minutes, until polenta again begins to thicken. Add cheese, butter, and thyme and stir well. The polenta should have the consistency of risotto: Loose but thick. If the mixture is too thick, add some warm water to thin it. It it's too thin, continue to cook until it has thickened. Once polenta is at the desired consistency, remove from heat and cover to keep warm.
  • In a large sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until soft and translucent. Reduce heat to low and add mushrooms, making sure not to crowd them. Cook until mushrooms release liquid and that liquid evaporates. Add another tablespoon of olive oil and garlic to the pan and cook gently for about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Spoon polenta into bowls and top with mushrooms. Top with toasted nuts and seeds and serve with a side of greens.


This dish needs a good melting cheese - preferably one with enough flavor to stand out, but not so much that it overwhelms the mushrooms. We recommend: Old Grizzly Gouda by Sylvan Star Cheese Ltd.; Raclette de Compton by Fromagerie La Station; Butterkäse by Edelweiss Creamery; Comté AOC by Arnaud QST / Cheese de France; ,a target="_blank" href="">Marieke Mature Gouda by Holland's Family Cheese; and Tarentaise by Spring Brook Farm.

Amy Scheuerman

Amy Scheuerman—culture's former web director—spent eight years in North Carolina where she developed a love of barbecue and biscuits before moving up north to get a degree in nutrition. She now works at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.