A Little Taste of Freedom in the Form of Polenta, Mushrooms and an Egg

The Runaway Mom Antidote

Do you ever think about what life will be like when (and if) your kids move out of the house? I know this may be a blasphemous thought in perfect mommy land because we aren’t supposed to think of day-to-day life without our little miracles. They ARE little miracles, don’t get me wrong.

But, man, they can be little buzz kills too.

There are two things I won’t miss when Luca and Alia make their way out into the world. One is negotiating every single act during the course of the day – getting up, putting clothes on, brushing teeth, choosing breakfast, eating breakfast, playing, not playing, putting stuff away, putting shoes on, taking shoes off, getting in the car, blowing noses, washing faces, flushing the toilet . . . EVERYTHING. I know many parents see these as mini “teachable moments,” but by 10 a.m. I am all taught out. Teaching tank is empty. Dry as a bone. I shouldn’t be surprised that all I can do after the final negotiation of the day – bedtime – is stare at the wall, then pass out into a deep, dark slumber only to wake up and do it all over again.

The other thing I won’t miss is tailoring meals to their tastes. It can’t be “too spicy.” Luca will surely ferret that out. If I put any kind of crunchy green or fresh tomato in a dish, I know Alia will resist. I don’t leave this stuff out though . . . because I want them to keep trying things. But, when I choose something to make, potential negative reactions are always in the back of my head. Or not. Sometimes, I am completely surprised that one of them doesn’t like something. Take the bowl of goodness pictured above. Cheesy, creamy polenta topped with oven roasted mushrooms and a fried egg. “How could this be wrong?” I thought. Last time I made it, there was a mutiny at our dining room table . . . there was crying and gagging and wrinkled noses. And, I can’t even write about the Dan Dan Noodle drama. It’s still too raw. I almost took my pot of scrumptious noodles and ran away from home.

So to keep myself put I sometimes make anything I want and do what I swore I would never do – make two (somewhat) different meals. Last night, the kids got the yoga special without the yoga and I made myself  Parmesan Polenta with Fried Eggs and Roasted Mushrooms. This recipe was a revelation to me the first time I made it. I discovered roasting mushrooms is the best way to prepare them. Their texture becomes satisfyingly chewy and dense, a great contrast to the soft polenta. This method of making polenta is brilliant. No laborious stirring at the cook top – just mix, bring to a boil and simmer.

And, everybody was content. The eggs and hash browns were gobbled up by the two miracle/buzz kills while I savored my little bowl of heaven and felt happy that they will be around for a while longer.

Parmesan Polenta with Eggs and Roasted Mushrooms
adapted from The Kitchn
Serves 3

For mushrooms:
1 lb mushrooms (I use cremini.)
1/8 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

For polenta:
1/2 cup polenta
1 cup milk
1 cup water
scant 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

To finish:
3 eggs
chopped fresh herb of your choice for garnish (I have used chives and basil. Flat leaf Italian parsley would be good as well.)

Preheat oven to 475.

Cut mushrooms into quarters. Toss mushrooms with oil, pepper flakes, and salt on a baking sheet. Spread in single layer and roast until browned, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk polenta, milk, water, and salt together in saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, covered. After reaching a boil, turn heat to low and let sit with lid cracked for 15 minutes.

While polenta is cooking, heat about 1 teaspoon olive oil a cast  skillet over medium heat and crack the eggs so that they are sunny side up. Season with salt and pepper. Lower heat to medium low and put a lid on the skillet. Cook for about 4-5 minutes until everything is set.  Flip the eggs and cook to desired doneness. I like mine over medium – whites firm and the yolk somewhat runny.

Mix Parmesan into polenta. Spoon polenta into a shallow bowl. Top with 1/3 mushrooms and one egg. Garnish with chopped herb(s) of your choice.

Rating:

Me:  A+ (This is a perfect bowl of food. One of my favorites.)

6 responses

  1. Had this last night with a variety of mushrooms picked at Borough Market. So delicious! Thanks!! I don’t know if this will make you feel better or worse, but Ian loved it too. He was actually eating it and saying nyum nyum nyum at the same time. We got a bit on video, which I’ll post soon.

    • I am so glad you liked it! And, the fact that Ian loved it is absolutely heartening. I see it as another score for moms who don’t fall down the rabbit hole of serving chicken tenders and fries to their kids because they don’t think their palates are sophisticated enough . . . the moms who keep offering interesting, healthful food despite the fact that their kids gag at the sight of yet another variation of kale. So, keep fighting the good fight, Stacey! Can’t wait to see the video. And, that market looks fabulous! I have such fond memories of markets in London.

  2. Is there any vegetable that isn’t best when roasted? And yet I don’t think I ate a roasted vegetable until I was in my 30s. So much wasted time eating ‘em steamed and fried and boiled.

    • I couldn’t agree more . . . where was roasting in the 70s and 80s. I would have had no problem eating my vegetables that way. Have you had roasted green beans? A revelation!

  3. I roast my green beans with shallots in hazelnut or almond oil, then sprinkle with goat cheese. Green bean casserole for the 20-teens!

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