I love mushrooms in any form. Mushrooms are rich in B vitamins, are excellent sources of micro elements like selenium and copper and rich in antioxidants. For as long as I remember I used to make mushroom ragout with cream and in my quest to make more of my recipes plant based, I experimented with options and came up with this recipe as it has the richness and creaminess of cream but it is vegan.
I find instant polenta is easier to work with and does not get lumpy as easily. In my experience I have always found that it requires way more water than recommended on the packet. Another trick I found is that if your polenta is too runny, then cook for longer. The creamy polenta is not vegan as I add some grated parmesan cheese in the end. Maybe you can omit the parmesan and see if you like it.
500g mushrooms, cleaned and sliced 4-5mm thick
50g shallots, chopped
100g onions, finely diced
10g dried shitake mushrooms
1 teaspoon Marmite
50g cashew nuts, soaked for 30 minutes in 200ml hot water
2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2-3 sprigs of thyme
2 tablespoons brandy
½ teaspoon brown sugar
Salt and pepper
2 cups or 300g instant polenta
30g butter, cubed
30g parmesan cheese, finely grated or on microplane
Rinse the shitake mushrooms and soak in 50ml hot water from a freshly boiled kettle for 15-20 minutes. Set aside.
Blitz the cashew nuts along with their soaking liquid in a food processor until creamy. In a small jar of food processor or spice grinder, add the shallots, shitake mushrooms including the soaking liquid and marmite. Process to a fine paste.
Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large fry pan. Fry the onions, thyme and garlic for 8-10 minutes. Toss the mushrooms in and mix well so that the aromatics stick to the mushroom pieces. Increase heat to a high and pour in the brandy. Be very careful and set the alcohol alight by using the flame from the stove or lighting a match. Once the alcohol has burnt off, lower heat to medium and fry the onions. Season with salt and pepper.
Once mushrooms look cooked, add the shitake mushroom paste and sugar. Mix well and check for seasoning adjusting as needed.
Pour in the cashew nut cream. Mix well and if sauce is too thick, add hot water spoon by spoon until desired sauce consistency is achieved. Fish out the thyme before serving. Keep warm while you prepare the polenta.
Cook the polenta as per instructions on the packet. Remove from heat and stir in the butter. Once butter cubes are incorporated, you can mix the parmesan cheese.
Serve a scoop of polenta and top it with the mushroom ragout. Serves 4 as a main meal.