Polenta with Cubanelle Peppers and Mushrooms

Also known as Italian Frying peppers. Cubanelle peppers are large and blocky. They are light green in appearance and they mature red. The thin walls of this pepper make it an excellent choice for frying. This pepper is not hot.

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3/4 pound onion, chopped (1 large)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3/4 pound cubanelle Peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
1/2 pound portobello mushrooms, trimmed and sliced or 1/2 lb. assorted wild mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup polenta, fine-grained
4 cups low sodium chicken broth or vegetable stock
2 cups Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated

Saute the onion in hot oil in a large nonstick pan until it begins to soften and brown. Add the peppers and continue cooking until they begin to soften. Add the mushrooms, garlic, and thyme, and continue cooking until all of the ingredients are soft and well blended, about 5-7 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Stir the polenta into 1 cup of the stock. Bring the remaining 3 cups of stock to a boil and slowly trickle in the polenta, stirring constantly so that lumps do not form. (If they do, mash with a spoon.) Reduce the heat and simmer a couple of minutes, until the mixture has thickened but still drops from a spoon.

Season with salt and spoon half of the mixture into the bottom of a shallow baking dish about 9″x13″. Top with half of the vegetables and half of the cheese. Spoon the remaining polenta on top of the vegetables; top with the remaining vegetables and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Refrigerate or freeze.

To serve, let the polenta defrost if frozen. Let the polenta come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350F. Bake the polenta for about 20-30 minutes, or until it has heated through and the cheese has melted.

Source: “The New Elegant but Easy Cookbook,” page 173. Copyright: Marian Burros and Lois Levine.