Creamy Polenta With Russian Kale & Shitake Mushrooms
I just absolutely love this time of year. The temperatures may be higher than Spring feels like in other part of the world but we are still (and I insist on still) a few weeks away from scorching 100F (minimum) and 100% humidity (also a minimum). That means I can meander the farmers market without melting or rushing to get home once the milk and eggs find their way to my basket.
Every Saturday that I am in town, from April to December you will find me right at opening hour at the market. I like to be able to talk to the vendors who have now become friends. Instead of "hey we’re back!" when the market opened again this season, it was hugs and stories shared all around. We had months to catch up on and lots of good news to share. New breeds for Jason at Meathouse. New lasagna and fresh pasta flavors for Brian at Rio Bertolini, new farmland for Ken and his crew. So proud to see so many young talents share their craft and passion with produce- intense people like me.
They know my habits. I am not special. They know the habits of all their regulars. I am grateful for their enthusiasm and little extras they put in my basket once in a while. I love that they never mind my taking pictures as if they were about to disappear with their next breath. Charleston is lucky to have caring farmers and individuals. We are lucky to have this amount of gorgeousness so many months out of the year. I do my weekly shopping there and right now I am all about the greens, mushrooms and radishes. In a few weeks it will be heirloom tomatoes and squash that will be prominent.
Going with the rythm of the season is a treat. I am aware of it. If you have access to a farmers market or to a farm, make a trip there. There are fantastic passionate people working to get you the best produce possible. I like to honor them with photographs and still life shots. They make my work so much easy. Clients are always thrilled to see ingredients as fresh as these!
It makes getting home after a long shoot and staring at the content of the fridge with a hungry stomach that much easier. I can look at the chalkboard pantry door and see what I can combine from both dry and fresh goods to make dinner. (Side note: when we built the house back in 2005, I took the pantry door off its hinges and painted it with a coat of chalkboard paint. It makes tracking one’s fridge and pantry content that much more efficient). Lately, I have renewed a love affair with soft and creamy polenta, topped with lots of greens and once in while with an egg or a few grilled shrimp. (season kick off here was a few weeks ago)
Fresh, easy, quick and completely satisfying. I have to thank my mother for reminding me of the wonders of polenta. When they visited last and she was so sick the whole time, it was the only thing she could eat without being bothered much afterwards. Instead of making different meals for everyone, we would just make one big batch and partake. Months after, I still reach for the tin of polenta whenever I want something light, yet comforting.
Here is my favorite way to serve it at the moment: topped with sauteed Russian kale and shitake mushrooms, plenty of garlic and parsley and with a poached egg on top.
What is your favorite easy dinner to make?
Creamy Polenta with Russian Kale Shitake Mushrooms (with option to be topped with a poached egg):
For the kale and mushroom mix:
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 cups cleaned and roughly chopped Russian kale
1/2 pound fresh shitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced thin
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup water or vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste
For the polenta:
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup fine grain yellow polenta
dash of freshly ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon heavy cream
For the poached egg (optional) (but oh so tasty!)
I find that Elise’s post about poached eggs is the best one to date. You can check it out here.
Start by preparing the kale and mushroom mix.
Heat the oil in a large skillet set over medium high. Add the kale and mushrooms and sauteed for about 5 minutes. Add the parsley and garlic and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add the stock (or water), salt and pepper, cook for another minute and remove from the heat. Let cool while you prepare the polenta.
In large pot, bring the water to a boil. Add the salt and polenta at once and stir quickly with a whisk or wooden spoon to prevent the polenta from clumping. Add the nutmeg. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Let the polenta cook, uncovered for about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the heavy cream. Check the seasoning once again.
Divide into four portions, top with the kale and mushroom mix, adding a few tablespoons of the juice as you go along and top with a poached egg if desired.
Sarah Toasty April 30, 2012 um 11:24 pm
i do desire the poached egg! can't wait for my market to open this weekend now!
Miss T May 1, 2012 um 1:03 am
Helene! Russian kale!? fascinating. I'm 'drinking' kale at the moment – delish. And I do love a good creamy polenta!
Jan May 1, 2012 um 2:15 am
Love this recipe idea. The Farmer's Market in Ottawa is opening this week-end and I know when I get there, I'm going to buy way more than I should, but I just can't help it… This is one of my favorite times of the year as well for all the fresh market finds.
Adina | Gluten Free Travelette May 1, 2012 um 2:45 am
Yum! Greens and polenta is one of my all time favorites. In fact I'm even making some now!
Anonymous May 1, 2012 um 5:46 am
Amazing photos! Just beautiful.
Rosa's Yummy Yums May 1, 2012 um 6:31 am
That looks delicious! A perfectly poached egg.
Your pictures are fabulous, as always!
Alanna May 1, 2012 um 6:55 am
This looks beautiful and delicious! We've been living on creamy polenta with sauteed asparagus, pesto and poached eggs for the last week. I'll have to try your version with mushrooms and greens!
Jennifer (Delicieux) May 1, 2012 um 6:58 am
I love farmers markets too. I think the thing I love the most is, as you say, meeting the talented and passionate people behind the produce. It's just something you can never get at a store.
Your polenta looks so inviting, especially with the poached egg oozing away on top. This would be a perfect easy dinner. But in answer to your question, our current favourite easy dinner is mushroom and thyme spaghetti. It's so easy because by the time the spaghetti is cooked the mushrooms are ready.
Anonymous May 1, 2012 um 7:02 am
The pictures are amazing.
Rachel [email protected] May 1, 2012 um 11:47 am
This looks so delicious and beautiful. I love every element from the greens to the runny egg. Must make this!
Andi of My Beautiful Adventures May 1, 2012 um 12:03 pm
You seriously make food prettier than fashion!
Yami May 1, 2012 um 12:51 pm
Beautiful and delicious!
Olga @ MangoTomato May 1, 2012 um 1:49 pm
oh my! love mushrooms with polenta, but the egg puts it over the top. swoon.
Laura May 1, 2012 um 1:54 pm
I love the market as well. In France, I have a market every week for 3 days all year round and the food is fresher, cheaper and more delicious! As for your recipe. I've never known what to make polenta with and when I saw this I knew I had to try it so I can't wait. Thanks for sharing this and promoting the joys or market shopping 😀
Shelby May 1, 2012 um 3:02 pm
Helene, this looks sooooo delicious!!!! I have also been topping off dinner with a poached egg..something about a runny bright yellow yoke spilling over healthy ingredients underneath is always enticing… Lately I've been loving Quinoa burgers on a bed of greens, topped with a poached egg….shavings of fresh Parmesan and some fresh herbs are always a plus 🙂 Lovely photos as always!! Well done!
emmaw215 May 1, 2012 um 3:25 pm
Would love to see an image of your chalkboard pantry door! 🙂
[email protected] May 1, 2012 um 4:19 pm
Beautiful! There is something about a bunch of crisp, freshly washed greens…it just gets my mouth watering. And with polenta! You just made my day (and possibly my dinner) 🙂
Sharyn Dimmick May 1, 2012 um 4:32 pm
My favorite quick dinner is pasta. My favorite quick pasta involves chopping up some broccoli or green beans and then placing some feta, lemon juice and basil or oregano in a serving bowl, sometimes with sun-dried tomatoes or roasted peppers. Cook the pasta, throw the broccoli in the cooking water for 30 seconds, drain, add to serving bowl and stir like mad.
Bree May 1, 2012 um 6:09 pm
Love the addition of the egg–yum!
Picnic Lane May 2, 2012 um 4:37 am
I'm hungry for eggs after reading this.
Creative and tasty food at www.picniclane.blogspot.com.au
Yami May 2, 2012 um 9:39 pm
Believe it or not but I had a dream last night with that delicious egg and I had to eat one today! That is who much impact your photos make. Thank you!!!
Stef May 3, 2012 um 11:08 am
This looks absolutely delicious! I've been eating polenta my whole life but I continue to marvel at how amazingly versatile it is. Will definitely give this a try.
Anonymous May 4, 2012 um 4:47 am
I bought your wonderful book and i'm enjoying every minute of reading it.
I have a question about your canon 100mm macro lens that i would be grateful if you could answer: when you use it do you have to stand far away from the food because of it's magnification?
Paulina May 4, 2012 um 7:19 pm
Oh I really like this! And I love your book! 😉
Anonymous May 5, 2012 um 12:54 pm
So glad you posted this! My neighbors are out of town and told me to take some of their kale and " have fun experimenting" with it. Your recipe looks divine! Now off to farmers market … Hopefully Georgia farmers still have shiitakes too..
Sara May 6, 2012 um 7:29 pm
I always agree with the polenta recipe.. 🙂 I'm from region in which people ar enamed "polentoni" 🙂
christin May 7, 2012 um 8:09 am
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Unknown May 8, 2012 um 1:35 am
My Russian Kale is just getting big right now. It's so tender and delicious. We love kale and polenta. I'm going to try it with the mushrooms next time. And maybe even the egg. My husband really loves eggs and polenta–big time staple dinner around our house.
blackberriesandbloodoranges May 8, 2012 um 11:52 am
Omelette and roasted broccoli or salad greens is my favorite quick meal. We are also lucky to live in a city (Minneapolis) full of food passion and wonderful farmers markets. Thanks for sharing your pictures–they are gorgeous.
Ilke May 9, 2012 um 2:31 pm
I love the South and its farmers. They all are caring, attentive to their customers and passionate about what they do. Can't wait to get more of my shopping done at the Regional Farmer's Market in Charlotte.
My simple dinner is similar to this.Eggs are always involved because it keeps us full and add the protein without messing with meat. I make "menemen" which is cubanelle or anaheim sweet peppers, sauted in grated tomato and then mixed with scrambled egg, eaten with crusty bread. That speaks "summer" to me.
Anonymous May 9, 2012 um 6:01 pm
What a beautiful dish! A perfect simple dinner indeed!
Rocky Mountain Woman May 9, 2012 um 8:49 pm
It is heartwarming to see so many young people carrying on the farming traditions of our past.
The polenta looks amazing!
Anonymous May 9, 2012 um 9:36 pm
I made this last night, it was delicious!
Easy kitchen May 11, 2012 um 6:58 am
We use to eat polenta in the North of the French Alps (Savoie)with Cheese as Beaufort and grilled sausages called Diot.
Kristina Bartova May 15, 2012 um 5:25 am
Looks delicious! Beautiful photos!
meg January 10, 2013 um 3:03 am
This was wonderful!! I made it for dinner tonight and it was a huge hit! This is the first time I have visited your blog and I will be back. Thank you!