Polenta with spinach and mushroom purée
The first week of Lent found me a bit unprepared. I’m usually a lot more organized and prefer to have my grocery shopping lists and Lent recipes ready days or maybe even weeks in advance. But not this time. I guess not all days are the same. These past few weeks have been crazy and left me feeling a bit inactive and unmotivated. Springtime blues!
Our stressful daily lives and all sorts of unexpected news and incidents inevitably affect us. Even when we don’t realise it, so many different factors control our mood, our activities, our patience and sometimes we just need to slow down a bit, remind ourselves that we may need to take a step back, regroup and recharge. Slowly and steadily.
I entered the first week of Lent in this mood, without having bought the necessary supplies and with a fridge full of all kinds of unsuitable foods for the occasion.
Fasting is a process I truly enjoy and something I do very consciously. Regardless of why someone chooses to fast, for religious reasons or simply as a form of detox (I do it for both reasons), I believe it is a great way to set some unhealthy and high in toxins foods aside for a while. You all know what I’m talking about. Time to replace them with plenty of vegetables, fruits and foods of plant origin in general. Lent is the perfect time to change our heavy winter dietary habits, even if it is for a little while!
Of course, fasting needs to be done with caution. Sometimes we might be trying to do something good for us but the outcome turns out to be quite the opposite. According to doctors, some people end up with high cholesterol by the end of Lent just because they misinterpreted what fasting actually means. And it certainly doesn’t mean it’s ok to consume extreme quantities of seafood just because we’ve quit meat. Also, some foods might be of plant origin but that doesn’t mean they’re natural or unprocessed. I’m saying that mostly to hear it myself and try to avoid overconsuming certain things I can hardly resist to during Lent, like the tons of bread that can be found in our kitchen!
As things have started to get back on track, I’m feeling ready to go back to my kitchen. The freshest and most eye-catching ingredients that I find at the market always determine the recipe of the day. Thus, there’s always a possibility that whatever plans and recipes I have in mind, they might change in an instant.
As I was shopping at the organic market today, I came across two super fresh vegetables, just the way they’re supposed to be, and instantly thought of a delicious and very simple recipe. Spinach and mushroom purée. I’m not sure how photogenic this dish might be and I’m quite curious to find out but either way, photogenic or not, this recipe is definitely worth sharing.
One of my daughter’s favourite dishes when she was little was spinach purée. A blessing for any mother, I know. Indeed I was extremely lucky that my little girl didn’t mind eating all the greens I’d put on her plate with spinach purée being a regular. At some point, I was thinking of ways to enrich its flavour and added mushrooms. Finely chopped brown mushrooms, almost purée-textured. It was just perfect!
I have the perfect fresh vegetables to make our favourite spinach and mushroom purée today. This is obviously a super simple and easy to make recipe. Purée is usually served as a side dish and since we’re in the middle of Lent, I thought I’d combine it with a lovely polenta, the famous Italian cornmeal mush. To elevate your dish, you can add some truffle in any form you prefer. Fresh grated truffle or truffle oil.. This time I used truffle salt instead of classic sea salt. Although making polenta was a last-minute decision, the end result was just fantastic!
for the purée
½ kg spinach, washed and boiled
350g brown mushrooms, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves
40ml olive oil
50ml heavy cream
Truffle salt, pepper
For the polenta
4 cups vegetable stock
1 cup polenta
2 tbsp butter
1. Purée – Bring the spinach to boil and remove from the water immediately. Strain the spinach and let it cool down. Once it reaches room temperature, squeeze the spinach with your hands to remove the remaining water. Chop it finely and set aside. Clean the mushrooms with kitchen paper and remove their stems. Chop them finely. Then chop the garlic (after you’ve removed the sprout). In a pan, heat olive oil and sauté the garlic to release its aroma. Add the mushrooms and spinach. Keep sautéing. In a cup with heavy cream, add flour and stir until you have an even mixture. Mix it with milk. Season with truffle salt and pepper. Then simmer the vegetables in this mixture. Let them boil for 5 minutes until your purée is ready.
2. Polenta – Bring the vegetable stock to boil. Once it starts bubbling, lower the heat. Pass the polenta through a sieve and add it gradually into the boiling water, stirring constantly with a wire whisk to avoid lumps. Continue stirring for 10-12 minutes until you have a thick mush. In the meantime, add salt, pepper and butter. Stir well until the butter has melted.
3. Serve the polenta while warm and add the purée on top. You can add some grated parmesan for a richer taste.