Makes 4 to 8 servings

In the 80s and 90s, I taught cooking classes in London, England and around Europe (Amsterdam; Kiental, Switzerland; Berlin and Cologne, Germany; Rome, Italy; Tenerife, Spain; and on an organic farm in Kaz, Turkey). On one of several trips to Italy, we enjoyed an autumn dinner in a countryside restaurant in the northern Lake Region. It was the season for porcini mushrooms and chestnuts. The menu choices were Polenta with Wild Mushrooms or Rabbit, either served with an abundant salad and red wine. We chose the mushrooms and the meal was one of the best I’ve ever eaten.

           Makes 3 to 4 cups, less with superfine polenta
1 cup polenta
4 cups water
1 teaspoon unrefined sea salt
1 teaspoon high-heat olive oil blend (equal parts EVOO and Spectrum high-heat oil)
1 ear fresh corn, kernels scraped from cob (optional, in season)

Braised Wild Mushrooms:
           Makes 2 to 3 cups
Enjoy this menu year-round with whatever mushrooms are in season, such as chanterelle, oyster, shiitake or royal trumpet mushrooms. Or include cultivated organic button or baby bella/crimini mushrooms, or Mycopia’s Organic Chef’s Sampler.

2 teaspoons high-heat olive oil blend
8 large cloves garlic, sliced
1 pound wild mushrooms, 6 to 8 cups, stems trimmed, caps left whole if small, or halved or quartered if large
1/2 teaspoon unrefined sea salt
Freshly-ground pepper
1½ teaspoons fresh rosemary and/or oregano, chopped, or ½ teaspoon Italian seasonings
Generous splash of light white wine or water (optional, only if needed)
1½ teaspoons kuzu or arrowroot powder dissolved in cool water or white wine to cover (optional, only if needed)
Italian parsley for garnish

1. Soak polenta in measured volume of water for an hour to overnight or all day.

2. Drain water from polenta into measuring cup and take note of the amount. Discard soak water. In a 3-quart pot, bring the same amount of fresh water to boil with salt and oil. Stir in the polenta (and the corn). When boiling resumes, turn heat low to cook covered until thick and creamy, about 20 minutes. Stir or whisk occasionally.

3. To cook mushrooms, heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic, mushrooms and seasonings. Cover and stir occasionally until the mushrooms release their juices, about 5 minutes. Add the liquid (wine or water) if needed, and cover to cook until quite tender and flavorful, about 5 minutes more. Stir occasionally. If needed to thicken, stir in kuzu or arrowroot.

4. Transfer polenta to a casserole dish, polenta board, or to individual serving plates or bowls. Spoon mushroom mixture over the top and garnish to serve hot.

Note: To reheat leftovers, whisk polenta with boiling water in a small saucepan, or slice polenta and fry in a little hot oil.

For 8 servings, per serving:
Calories: 124   Protein: 3gm    Fat: 3gm   Saturated Fat: 0.4gm   Carbohydrates: 25gm     Fiber: 5gm    Cholesterol: 0   Sodium: 255mg
Calories from Protein: 9%     Calories from Fats: 17%    Calories from Carbohydrates: 74%