It’s springtime here in Baltimore, Maryland and asparagus is popping up in my organic grocery store! So of course I couldn’t resist! I love asparagus and it’s unique flavor. And of course I love mushrooms. I’ve combined them together into a super quick, weeknight meal that comes together in just about 30 minutes. Healthy and fast – I’m trying to keep it simple for ya!
My mushroom and asparagus sauté starts with a base of red onion and garlic. I’m keeping this recipe oil-free because there is some evidence that heating oils too hot results in their degradation into toxic by products that could potentially cause cancer. Additionally, although it has been touted as a health food, there is increasing evidence that it is not (1). I realized that I was using A LOT of oil because I was going through a bottle almost every 2 weeks. So now I try to cut back at home. I still use a little here or there on top of a salad or hummus. I go out to eat, there will no doubt be lots of oil used, so that accounts for most of my oil consumption now.
To cook oil-free is like cooking with oil. All you need to do in this recipe is have a cup of water to the side. As you are cooking, pour in a couple of tablespoons to prevent the vegetables from getting stuck to the pan. That’s all! Easy peasy. And to me, it doesn’t taste any different than using oil. You could also use a vegetable stock and that would add a bit more flavor to the mix. Up to you.
Here’s how I prep the veggies – mushrooms in 1/4 inch slices and asparagus on the diagonal
There’s also the misconception that polenta is really tricky to make and you have to stir it constantly. Well – that’s just not true! The ratio is 4 cups water to 1 cup polenta. Make sure you are not purchasing quick or instant polenta – this is precooked, then dried out and ground up really fine, making it way more processed and it’s not going to taste nearly as good. At the store, look for regular polenta or you can also use cornmeal, as that’s all polenta is. The trick in this recipe is that by using a dutch oven pot, which disperses heat more evenly than a thin pot, and covering with a lid, you can let the polenta cook unattended while you prep and cook the mushrooms and asparagus. Just stir every 5 to 10 minutes to make sure the polenta isn’t sticking to your pot.
At the end, I stirred in a bit of nutritional yeast for a little cheesy flavor, but this is totally optional. If you’ve never made polenta before, you will see that it starts to set up and get really firm. If you have leftovers, to reheat the next day, return to the stovetop and heat. Add in more water and stir until it regains your desired consistency.
I hope you enjoy this recipe and find it warm and comforting!
Happy cooking and much love
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Mushroom and Asparagus Polenta
In 40 minutes you can create a delicious and spring-inspired dinner with only 8 ingredients (not counting water, salt and pepper)! While you wait for your water to boil for the polenta, start prepping the veggies for the sauté. Once the water is boiling, pause from your prep to add the polenta to the boiling water. The polenta needs 30 minutes to cook and the veggies only need about 13 minutes.
– dutch oven pot (cast iron enameled)
– large skillet with diameter of over 12 inches
Author: Leah Romay
- 12 oz mushrooms – your choice of type, or a mixture – sliced 1/4″ thick
- 1 large bundle of asparagus, 1″ pieces sliced on diagonal
- 1 large red onion, sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- Fresh thyme
- 2 T balsamic vinegar, plus a drizzle for serving
- 1 cup cornmeal or polenta (not quick polenta!)
- 4 cups water
- 1.5 T nutritional yeast (optional)
- 2 tsp sea salt, divided
- 1 cup of water, to add during sautéing
- In a large pot with lid, add 4 cups of water and 1 tsp sea salt. Cover and place over high heat to bring to a boil.
- Meanwhile, prep onions and garlic. Remove any woody stems from mushrooms and asparagus. Slice mushrooms 1/4″ thick and slice asparagus into 1″ pieces on diagonal.
- Once water is boiling, slowly pour 1 cup of polenta/cornmeal into water while whisking continuously with your other hand. Then whisk for another 2 minutes until it’s thickened a bit and bubbling. Turn heat to the lowest setting where polenta is just barely bubbling. Cover with lid. Every 5-10 minutes, stir to make sure polenta isn’t sticking to the bottom of the pot. Cook for a total of 30 minutes. Keeping the pot covered during cooking prevents it from drying out so you don’t have to stir it continuously.
- Heat your largest skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic plus 2 tablespoons of water. Stir occasionally for 3 minutes.
- Add mushrooms, 1/2 cup of water, 1 teaspoon sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Stir to combine. Every so often, stir to make sure they aren’t sticking to the pan. Add a little more water if they start to stick. Cook 5 minutes.
- Add in the asparagus. Cook for 3 minutes. Again, if things are sticking to your pan, throw in a couple of tablespoons of water until they loosen up.
- Add in 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar and the thyme. Stir to combine. Cook 1 minute.
- After 30 minutes are up on the polenta, stir in nutritional yeast, if using.
- To serve, place polenta in your bowl and top with veggies. Drizzle with additional balsamic vinegar and fresh thyme leaves.