Ever since I took on a gluten free diet (This was entirely my personal choice as I am not gluten intolerant and it doesn’t mean my recipes will be completely gluten free. I will still be cooking with as many healthy ingredients as usual. So any gluten free recipes will be a bonus for those who are sensitive to gluten!) I have to be more creative than ever, seeking new ingredients to create our family meals. To be honest, it is not so difficult; it has actually opened up my eyes to many other ingredients that I otherwise would have not as often used in my cooking. One example is polenta. It is such a diverse ingredient, which now has become one of our family favorites.
This particular grilled cheese and mushroom “polenta sandwich” has the lovely taste of rosemary which works best with mushroom; on top of that, the grilled cheese add an extra layer of flavor (I reckon goat cheese will also work well in this dish). The pesto and sun-dried tomato in the polenta elevated the whole taste of the dish, my husband said the whole thing tasted like ‘pizza’ and he loved it, so did my 4 years old!
I would have used crusty bread if I was not eating gluten free, but – as you will experience yourself – this is delicious enough if not better! Served with a green salad, avocado salsa or cooked green vegetables it will make a satisfying meal.
(serves 4 person)
For the polenta ‘toast’:
- 1 cup polenta
- 3 cup vegetable stock
- 4 pieces sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped or minced
- 2 heaped tsp. Pesto (I use basil based)
For the grilled cheese:
- 220g button mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 1 ball mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced (it reduces the cooking time in the grill)
- A tbsp. of fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- 1 small clove of garlic, halved
- Ground black pepper
- Sea salt
- Olive oil
First we prepare the polenta; bring the stock to boil in a medium saucepan, turn the heat down to medium low, slowly stream down the polenta and stir constantly to make sure no lumps are formed. Cook the polenta for about 15 to 20 minutes or according to package instructions. Once cooked, remove from heat and stir in the sun dried tomatoes and pesto until well combined. Transfer the polenta to a glass container or small baking dish (I use a 11x24cm dish, it doesn’t really matter, you can make any shape ‘sandwich’ you like!), set aside and cool so it will firm up.
Prepare the mushrooms: Heat a splash of olive oil in a small pan then add garlic and mushrooms. Fry for about 2 minutes until the mushrooms are golden brown, season with salt and pepper, remove from heat, then discard the garlic.
When the polenta is cool and firm enough to be cut (about an hour, but you can always make the polenta well ahead, just bring it back to room temperature before grilling), cut the polenta in small slabs, thick as normal toast bread and lay them on a baking sheet or baking tray. Layer the cooked mushrooms on the polenta slabs, then layer the cheese on top. Drizzle a little bit olive oil on top of each piece.
Grill the polenta cheese sandwich for about 8-10 minutes in the oven, or until the cheese is golden and bubbly. Now transfer immediately to a serving plate and eat while warm.