I’ve had the ingredients for this dish in my refrigerator for about a week… I had intended to make it last week, but then Mardi Gras happened and there was food and drink everywhere. No need to cook anything, that’s for sure.
These tasty little bowls turned out even better than I had expected. They come together in about 30 minutes and have a variety of flavors, textures, and colors. That’s everything I love in a meal! Oh, and they’re inexpensive, of course. ;) I made four bowls, which I can easily eat over the next week, but if you needed to freeze one or two of them, they will definitely freeze beautifully and only be a quick microwave away when you need them.
The idea for this dish came about because I had some leftover marinara sauce that I wanted to use up, plus half a block of feta. I loved a Vegetable Polenta Casserole that I made a few weeks back, but decided to change the preparation into an easier bowl-style dish. I’ve gotta say, I love the new version even better!
Portobello Polenta Bowls
Portobello Polenta Bowls
- 3 cups vegetable broth* ($0.39)
- 1 cup water ($0.00)
- 1 cup cornmeal ($0.24)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil ($0.16)
- 2 cloves garlic ($0.16)
- 8 oz baby portobello mushrooms** ($2.29)
- 1/4 tsp dried thyme ($0.03)
- 8 oz frozen chopped spinach ($0.80)
- 1 cup marinara sauce ($0.79)
- 2 oz feta cheese ($0.87)
- salt and pepper to taste ($0.05)
- Bring 3 cups of vegetable broth to a boil in a sauce pot. Stir together the cornmeal and one cup of water, then pour into the boiling broth. Stir the mixture and allow it to come back up to a simmer. Turn the heat down to low, place a lid on top, and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until very thick. Stir occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
- Mince the garlic and slice the mushrooms. Add the olive oil, mushrooms, garlic, and thyme to a large skillet and sauté over medium heat until the mushrooms are limp. Season the mushrooms lightly with salt and pepper.
- Remove the mushrooms from the skillet (leaving any liquids behind in the skillet) and add the frozen spinach. Sauté the spinach until heated through. Season lightly with salt and pepper. (It's okay if the mushrooms and spinach are a little on the bland side because the marinara, feta, and polenta all provide a lot of flavor and salt.)
- Spoon one cup of polenta into each bowl, then top with 1/4 cup of marinara sauce (warm the marinara sauce in the microwave or a small pot if desired). Divide the mushrooms and spinach between the four bowls, then crumble 1/2 oz. of feta over each bowl. Serve warm.
Step by Step Photos
First, bring 3 cups of vegetable broth to a boil in a sauce pot. I use Better Than Bouillon to make my broth because it’s convenient, inexpensive, and tasty. You’ll need one teaspoon of Better Than Bouillon plus one cup of water to make one cup of broth (or 1 tablespoon + 3 cups water = 3 cups broth).
Once the broth is boiling, combine one cup of cornmeal with one cup of water, then stir it into the boiling broth. Combining the dry cornmeal with water first helps prevent lumps in the polenta. Allow the cornmeal/broth mixture to come back up to a boil, then turn it down to low and let simmer with a lid for 10-15 minutes, or until it is thick. Stir it occasionally as it cooks to prevent it from sticking.
I used baby portobello mushrooms because they were the most cost effective of the portobello options at my grocery store. You could also use full sized portobello caps, just slice them thinly and into shorter strips, so that you have a little in every bite. I used one 8 oz. package of mushrooms.
Mince two cloves of garlic and slice the 8 oz. of mushrooms. Sauté the mushrooms and garlic in a skillet with 1 Tbsp olive oil and 1/4 tsp dried thyme over medium heat until the mushrooms are limp. Season the mushrooms lightly with salt and pepper. Remove the mushrooms from the skillet, leaving any liquid behind in the skillet (it will help keep the spinach moist as it cooks).
Add 8 oz. (1/2 lb.) of frozen chopped spinach to the skillet and continue to sauté until it is warmed through. You’ll want the frozen chopped spinach that comes in a bag rather than the kind that is frozen into a block. It’s much easier to work with and has less liquid. Season the spinach with a little salt and pepper. It’s okay of the mushrooms and spinach are a little on the bland side because between the feta, marinara, and broth cooked polenta, you have plenty of flavor and salt going on already. These two items kind of help mellow things out.
You’ll also need 1 cup of marinara sauce and 2 oz. of feta, then you’re ready to assemble the bowls. I buy my feta in an 8 oz. block, then just cut it into quarters to easily measure out 2 oz.
To build the bowls, spoon about 1 cup of polenta into the bottom of each bowl. Add 1/4 cup of marinara on top. You can warm the marinara in the microwave or in a small pot, if needed. I felt that the rest of the ingredients were hot enough that I didn’t care that the marinara was cool, but that’s just me.
Next, divide the mushrooms, spinach, and feta between the four bowls. That little 2 oz. block of feta really goes far once crumbled, right? <3 Feta.
And now it’s time to eat! As you dig in, get a little polenta, a little spinach, some marinara, portobellos, and a touch of feta on each forkful! Yum!
(after the photos I packed the bowls into resealable containers for quick lunches over the next few days!)