For the ragu:
- 2 cups boiling water, divided
- 1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms
- 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed without oil
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 and 1/2 cups finely chopped red onion
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 5 cups finely chopped cremini mushrooms
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 cup vegan dry red wine
- 2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
- 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 and 1/2 cups water
- 1 and 1/2 cups plain non-dairy milk
- 1/2 cup shredded vegan cheese
- 2 tablespoons vegan Parmesan sprinkles (such as Galaxy Foods)
2. At the same time, cover the sun-dried tomatoes with 1 cup boiling water in a bowl. Cover and let stand for 15 minutes. Drain and finely chop the tomatoes; set aside.
3. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the red onion and garlic; cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Add the cremini mushrooms, rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and crushed red pepper. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Uncover and cook for a final 5 minutes, until the liquid is almost all evaporated.
Note: this mixture of aromatics and finely chopped vegetables is known as a "soffritto" in an Italian ragu. Not to be confused with bottled sofrito (often a mix of tomato, onion, and peppers), it refers to the vegetables that are sauteed in fat (in this case olive oil) as the base of a ragu, to help develop a rich, hearty flavor.
5. Add the chopped porcini caps, the reserved soaking liquid, the chopped sun-dried tomatoes, the red wine, and the flat-leaf parsley. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 12 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, prepare the polenta: place the cornmeal and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a saucepan. Gradually add the water and milk, stirring constantly with a whisk. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until thickened.
7. Remove from heat and stir in the shredded cheese of your choice. I liked the Gouda from Sheese in this recipe, which mimics a sharp, nutty cheese like Gruyere.
Note: you'll wind up with a soft polenta, so don't expect it to be as firm as the store-bought kind in a tube. Still creamy enough to stir, the polenta will also be thick enough to hold its shape, as shown in the picture below.
8. Place 1 cup polenta on each of 4 shallow plates or bowls, and top each serving with 1 cup ragu. Sprinkle each serving with 1 and 1/2 teaspoons Parmesan sprinkles.
4 servings (1 cup polenta, 1 cup ragu, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons Parmesan), Calories 334
The amazing sun-dried tomato flavor hit me first, followed by the richness of the porcini broth. The polenta was creamy with a nice touch from the cheese. There was perhaps the tiniest bit too much red wine in the broth - I would decrease the amount to 3/4 cup next time. That would also help solve the problem that the ragu is a little too watery. I would either evaporate off more liquid next time, or serve over a pasta like linguine, which would soak up a bit more sauce than the polenta did. But a very filling one-dish dinner, and verging on "5" for taste.