Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentines Day Dinner - Mushroom Ragu & Polenta


Today is Valentines Day and my husband is half-way across the world, in Paris! How did it happen that Nick is in "the most romantic city in the world" while I am in "the city of America's first mall" (one of Providence's few claim to fames)? Something just doesn't feel right about this...


But if I were in Paris today, I'd probably make us go to all of the yummy places Ina Garten writes about in her book, Barefoot in Paris:
"I live on the border of the 6th and 7th arrondissement, between three things that I think are the best things in Paris: the bread bakery Poilâne (8 rue du Cherche-Midi), the cheese shop Fromagerie Barthélemy (51 rue de Grenelle), and Bon Marché (38 rue de Sèvres), a huge specialty food store that's amazing. I'm also near Marianne Robic (39 rue de Babylone), a great flower shop."


Anyway, enough wollowing...before Nick left I made us this delicious Mushroom Ragu & Polenta dinner, again from the Sweet Basil cookbook that I've been testing out recently. It was really delicious and the perfect dinner for a cold and snuggley night -- like tonight! It's also healthy but hearty enough to please. Once everything is chopped up it is really easy to cook so you can entertain your valentine while you make dinner (and not be a spastic freak running around the kitchen doing too many things at once).


Sweet Basil's Mushroom Ragu:
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 carrots, peeled & diced
2 spanish onions, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 large portobello mushrooms, stemmed and sliced into 1/2 in. strips
12 shitake mushroom caps, stemmed and sliced in 1/2
12 white mushrooms, sliced thin
fresh rosemary
fresh sage
pinch chili flakes
1 cup port wine (I used the red wine we were drinking with dinner)
1 cup chicken stock (I used vegetable stock)
2 plum tomatoes (I used a small can of crushed tomatoes, as it is, February!)
salt & pepper
2 tablespoons butter (Can leave out if you are my sister)
Parmesean cheese (Again, if Anna Moriarty, leave out)

Saute the carrots, onion, celery, and garlic in the olive oil for 10 minutes, until everything is getting soft and brown. Add the mushrooms, herbs, and chili and saute for another 10 minutes until the mushrooms are wilted and have released all of their water.
Add the cup of port (wine) and deglaze the pan (essentially rub all the brown bits off the bottom). Simmer the wine down until it is reduced by half.
Pour in the vegetable stock and simmer until the sauce thickens up to your liking. Stir in the tomatoes and let them get all nice and incorporated.
Taste - add salt & pepper.
Remove from the heat and swirl in the butter.
Spoon over polenta & top with parmesean cheese!

*I just cooked up some quick cooking polenta as per the package instructions, using vegetable stock as the liquid. You can, of course, make your own polenta and the Sweet Basil cookbook has a recipe for that too! Something I'll have to try some other time....
Polenta is essentially a porridge made of cornmeal.

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