Polenta on a Board Topped with Butternut Squash and Mixed Mushrooms

polenta with mushroom and butternut squash

The weather has officially cooled down and now we’re well into the fall season, comfort foods are slowly creeping into my kitchen, and a meal that I love making in this cooler weather is, creamy warm polenta topped with pretty much anything.

I’ve posted polenta several times on this blog, but this time I’m serving it on a wooden board, yes a board, it’s casual, rustic, communal and a fun way to eat it.

Cook up your polenta, make it nice and creamy, then immediately pour it onto a wooden board, spread it around then top it with almost anything you can imagine. It’s the perfect base for sauteed greens, a nice meaty red sauce, roasted veggies, a wild mushroom ragu, even poached eggs, the list is endless!

You can use any size wooden cutting board that you might have, or buy a designated polenta board that is either round or a very long rectangle, both can be placed in the center of a table for a big polenta party, depending on the size you can either double or even triple the recipe, or you can use a pizza peel like I did, which is a good size for a smaller amount.

assorted raw mushrooms

I decided to top mine with oyster, crimini and beech mushrooms, I love the different variety of mushrooms I’m seeing all over.

roasted butternut squah

And of course butternut squash because they’re a match made in heaven!

roasted mushrooms with garlic and thyme

I roast both of the veggies ahead of the time and with the mushrooms I like to add some garlic and thyme.

polenta with mushroom and butternut squash

Place everything on top, put your board in the middle of the table, grab a spoon or a fork and dig in!

polenta with mushroom and butternut squash

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Polenta on a Board Topped with Butternut Squash and Mixed Mushrooms
A casual and fun way to eat creamy polenta!
  • 1 small butternut squash, cut into a small dice, then tossed in olive oil and pre-roasted on a sheet pan at 400 degrees until lightly golden
  • assorted mushrooms of your choice, at least 1½ lbs. pre-roasted at 400 degrees with 3 chopped garlic cloves and a few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 cup of quick cooking polenta
  • 4 cups of liquid, I like to use 2 cups milk and 2 cups broth
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 handfuls of grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • a little butter and olive oil
  1. Put the liquid and salt into a heavy pot, get it to boiling then reduce heat to a low simmer and whisk in the polenta, then get a wooden spoon and get stirring until nice and creamy.
  2. Take it off the stove add in a tablespoon of butter, a drizzle of olive oil and the cheese, stirring until incorporated.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Quickly spread onto your wooden board, then top with all your veggies.
  5. Drizzle more olive oil on top, and a little more grated cheese, serve immediately



Creamy Warm Polenta with Broccoli Rabe, Mushrooms and Roasted Tomatoes

creamy polenta

Creamy polenta is the perfect winter fare, it’s warm, comforting and becomes the ideal rustic meal for a very cold winter day!

creamy polenta

Fresh herbs, grated Parmigiano Reggiano and a touch of cream stirred into the polenta makes it so irresistible, you’ll be tempted to eat it straight out of the pan, trust me!

creamy polenta

But please try and resist the urge because it tastes even better when it’s spread out all over a platter and then topped with your favorite vegetables.

creamy polenta

I used garlicky broccoli rabe, juicy roasted tomatoes and sauteed portobellos to grace the top of mine. I didn’t even have time to plate it, we just grabbed 2 forks and went to town!

poached egg

Now if you’re feeling like you need just a little more comfort, place a couple of poached eggs on top and let that yolk ooze on out. I guarantee all your senses will be satisfied!

Creamy Warm Polenta with Broccoli Rabe, Mushrooms and Roasted Tomatoes
  • 1 cup polenta ( I used the quick cook kind)
  • 2 cups of chicken broth, or vegetable
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of fresh chopped parsley and basil
  • ½ cup of half and half
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • 3 portobello mushrooms, gills removed and sliced
  • 1 bunch of broccoli rabe
  • 5 campari tomatoes or several cherry tomatoes
  • 2 shallots
  • 4 minced garlic
  • splash of white wine
  1. Prepare Vegetables: Roast tomatoes on baking sheet with foil drizzled with olive oil at 400 until they slightly burst.
  2. Boil broccoli rabe for 5 minutes then place in ice bath, drain, then saute with 2 cloves of shaved garlic, olive oil and a pinch of crushed red pepper.
  3. Saute 2 chopped garlic and 2 chopped shallots in olive oil, add sliced mushrooms and a splash of white wine, cook until moisture evaporates.
  4. For the Polenta: Boil water and broth along with the butter, whisk in polenta cook until bubbly and creamy.
  5. Stir in grated Parmigiano, herbs and the half and half, drizzling a little more olive oil.
  6. Spread polenta on a platter or board, arrange veggies on top, garnish with more Parmigiano

Comfort Food

It’s cold here today! Chicago is in the single digits and that requires some comfort food and I can’t think of a more fitting dish than Chicken with Fennel and Olives, and to make it even more comforting it’s served on top of Creamy Warm Polenta.
This is a simple rustic dish, nothing fancy, cooked in one pan and packed with flavor, I guarantee it will make you all warm and cozy inside.
I used chicken thighs but you can use whatever chicken parts you like.
Here’s the recipe.
Chicken with Fennel and Olives
6 chicken thighs
1 fennel bulb, sliced
1 onion, sliced
8 cloves of chopped garlic
1 14 oz can of cherry tomatoes ( or diced)
Jumbo green pitted olives
Parsley, thyme, oregano and basil
White wine
In a large oven proof skillet brown up your chicken which has been seasoned with salt and pepper until it has a nice deep golden color, remove and drain the fat. Drizzle in some olive oil and saute the garlic, onion and fennel and then deglaze with a healthy splash of white wine. Add in your herbs, salt and pepper then place the chicken back in. Spread your olives all around then place the pan in a preheated 375F oven for around 45 minutes uncovered.
Creamy Polenta
1 1/2 cups of half and half, cream or milk
1 1/2 cups of chicken broth
3/4 cup of polenta, I used the instant kind
1 tablespoon butter
Grated parmesan ( a nice size handful) and chopped basil
In a deep sauce pan heat your milk and broth until boiling then whisk in the polenta until it starts to bubble and splatter, be careful! Take it off the stove add in butter, cheese, snipped basil, salt and pepper to taste. Tastes best when served immediately, if it thickens up just add more liquid to loosen it up.
Enjoy your weekend, we’ll be home Sunday rooting for the Bears! Go Bears!