Comfort In A Bowl


Photo: Michelle Kemp-Nordell

— by Michelle Kemp-Nordell

Winter has finally reared its head here in Israel.  All I could think of was making comfort in a bowl.  First, I made us a big pot of hearty chicken soup which nurtured Mr. BT and me through the cold-flu episode. It healed us, warmed us, and comforted us as it always does. Good old chicken soup.

When I finally had the energy to cook again, I decided to make the second best comfort in a bowl recipe: polenta.

Soft polenta, stirred clockwise with a wooden paddle over a low flame.  Served with sauteed White Button mushrooms, King Oyster mushrooms, homegrown Cavolo Nero (black leaf kale) from my garden, and creamy Gorgonzola cheese.  Life can’t get much better than that!

More after the jump.


Black leaf kale

Polenta with Mushroom, Leeks, Cavolo Nero, and Gorgonzola

For the polenta:

  • 4 cups cold water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup polenta (not instant)

For the vegetables:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large leek, pale and green parts only, rinsed and thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 small bunch of Cavolo Nero, Kale, or Swiss Chard, stems removed and roughly chopped
  • 1 package White Button or Cremini mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
  • 2 large King Oyster mushrooms, cut in half and then cut lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 3.5 oz. Gorgonzola Dolce

  1. Place the water and salt in a large saucepan over a low flame. Immediately add the polenta in a steady stream while stirring constantly in a clockwise motion to avoid lumps. Stir every few minutes until all the liquid is absorbed and the polenta is thick, approximately 30-40 minutes. The polenta should be soft and creamy, not grainy.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the leeks, garlic, and Cavolo Nero. Saute until the leeks are slightly soft and barely golden, about 5 minutes. Place in a bowl and set aside. Add an additional tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and add the mushrooms, cooking until they are softened, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the leek mixture and the white wine to the pan. When the wine is cooked down slightly, add the chopped thyme, and salt and pepper to taste.
  4. When the polenta has finished cooking, crumble in half of the Gorgonzola and mix through. Place the polenta on a large platter and form a well in the center. Place the mushroom mixture in the well and crumble the rest of the Gorgonzola on top.

Michelle Kemp-Nordell is the creator of Baroness Tapuzina. She is a foodie who grew up in the “house of weird vegetables.” Follow her adventures as she experiments with exotic vegetables from her garden and spices from around the world.