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Seriously Simple: Mushroom ragout with creamy polenta warms you up on chilly days

Diane Rossen Worthington, Tribune Content Agency on

It has been unseasonably cold this year, with some temperatures going into negative digits. Even we Californians have been in it, with chilly evenings where a crackling fire and a dish of cozy comfort is what we crave.

I was dreaming of soft polenta, but I wondered: What to top it with? Then I thought about mushroom ragout and sensed it would be a harmonious match. That’s when I whipped up this rustic mushroom ragout seasoned with tarragon and spooned into a bowl of creamy corn polenta. It really is just perfect for those bone-chilling moments. I have served this as both a first course (a smaller portion of course) and as a main entrée.

Look for a mixture of fresh mushrooms, such as portobello or cremini and shitake, and add in some dried porcini. The soaking liquid from the dried mushrooms adds a rich layer of flavor to the ragout. Cooking the tomato paste for a minute will accentuate the tomato flavor, and a touch of soy sauce brings out the mushroom essence.

You can make the ragout up to a day ahead and reheat gently before serving. If you make the ragout in advance, this really is Seriously Simple.

The polenta should be prepared just before serving so it keeps its creamy consistency. It’s so much easier with instant polenta and only takes a few minutes to put together. And you can halve this recipe if you are serving just a few people. To drink? I recommend a hearty zinfandel, merlot or cabernet sauvignon.

Mushroom Ragout with Creamy Polenta


Serves 6 to 8 as an entree

3/4 ounce dried porcini or morels, soaked in 2 1/2 cups of boiling water for 30 minutes

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon unsalted butter


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