- Quite suddenly it’s autumn. With its wafts of mist in the early morning, cooler nights, rainy days and thick socks. And with it comes our appetite for warm and hearty food. A few weeks ago we preferred cool, light dishes – now we like hearty, hot dishes a thousand times more. In traditional Chinese medicine, autumn is described as a time when not only dry leaves rustle under our feet, but our bodies also retain less moisture and become drier. At the same time, our energy level drops and we become more susceptible to colds. That is why it is all the more important to take care of ourselves with warming, moisturizing and well nourishing dishes. Since nature always provides the right ingredients for our diet at the right time of the year, there are now a variety of mushrooms that not only taste wonderful, but also strengthen our immune system, have a detoxifying effect and build moisture in the body.
Food pharmacy mushrooms
Mushrooms are something very special because they are a hybrid of plant and animal. Although they are sedentary like a plant, they breathe oxygen like an animal and feed on organic material such as wood or insects. The cell walls of mushrooms are not made of cellulose, as in plants, but of chitin, which is also used in the armor of insects. Medicinal mushrooms have been used for therapeutic purposes in Asia for thousands of years. But also normal edible mushrooms such as champignons, chanterelles, porcini mushrooms and shiitake also have a healing effect on the body:
- Their high fiber content ensures a healthy intestinal environment and stimulates digestion. At the same time, it ensures that we find mushroom dishes to be particularly filling and nutritious.
- Mushrooms are among the foods richest in potassium and help regulate the water balance in our body and improve the transmission of electrical impulses to muscle or nerve cells (a potassium deficiency can lead to muscle and even heart muscle damage).
- Mushrooms contain many important vitamins and minerals. For example zinc for the metabolism, selenium as cell protection and for the defense against free radicals (porcini mushrooms are particularly rich in selenium) and iron for the immune system.
And then there are the polenta sticks! For me they are the ultimate feel-good food for autumn. Crispy on the outside and warm and soft on the inside. If you have enough time to prepare the polenta a few hours in advance (up to the step where you’ve cooked the polenta and spread it on a parchment-lined baking sheet to cool), the consistency will be best. But that’s just the icing on the cake. Otherwise, you can prepare the dish in one go, but you still need enough patience to let the polenta cool down completely before you cut it into pieces and roast it in the oven. Bon Appetit!
POLENTA STICKS WITH MUSHROOM RAGOUT
For the polenta sticks:
- 350 ml water
- 100 g quick cooking polenta plus 1 tbsp more to marinate the sticks
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2/3 tsp salt
For the mushrooms:
- 400 g mixed mushrooms e.g. Chanterelles and champignon
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small vegetable onion
- 1 clove garlic
- 80 ml white wine
- 200 ml soy cream or other cream
- 100 ml water
- 1 tsp salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
- Heat the water for the polenta sticks in a saucepan. Add the polenta while stirring. Add the olive oil and salt, reduce the heat and continue stirring (be careful, it could splash), then remove the pan from the heat, cover it with a lid and let it steep for 5 minutes until the semolina is soft but still slightly firm to the bite. Cover a cutting board or baking sheet with baking paper and place the polenta on top. Spread with a tablespoon into an approx. 15 x 15 cm rectangle and let cool down completely.
- Preheat the oven to 220°C circulation air (alternatively: 220°C top and bottom heat).
- Cut the cooled polenta into long pieces. Spread 1 tablespoon of uncooked polenta semolina on a large, flat plate and toss the pieces carefully so that they don't break. Line a baking sheet with baking paper and place the polenta pieces on top. Bake for 10 minutes (if you use top and bottom heat, you have to increase the baking time by 5–10 minutes). Then switch to circulation air and top heat and bake for another 5 minutes until the sticks are crispy on the outside (if your oven does not have circulation air, then simply switch to normal top heat).
- Meanwhile, clean the mushrooms thoroughly and, depending on the size, leave them whole or cut them into slices. Peel and finely chop the onion and garlic.
- Fry the mushrooms in two portions in 1 tbsp olive oil each for about 5 minutes, stirring until they are lightly browned, then remove them from the pan and set aside.
- In the same pan, sweat the onion and garlic in 1 tablespoon of olive oil until glassy and deglaze with the white wine. Add the soy cream and water. Add the mushrooms and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Add 2/3 of the chopped parsley and season with salt, pepper and white wine.
- Serve with the polenta sticks and garnished with parsley.