Creamy Spiced Polenta with Tarragon Mushrooms

Polenta! What IS it, exactly? Please, forget that weird looking tube version that you'll sometimes find in the International aisle at the store. You can easily make your own polenta at home in a matter of minutes. MINUTES! Polenta is creamy cooked cornmeal - very similar to Southern grits. Think savoury cream of wheat - but made of corn. It's incredibly versatile, as it takes on the flavour of whatever you decide to spice it with. Many recipes will tell you to load it with cheese, but I thought I'd make it lighter & change it up with a bit of mediterranean flair. Polenta without cheese?! TRUST ME. The combination of tangy yogurt, zingy sumac, bright turmeric & deliciously potent tarragon will take your tastebuds to new heights.

Creamy Spiced Polenta with Tarragon Mushrooms
an original recipe by allison sklar

For the polenta
2 1/4 cups water
1/2 cup instant polenta*
2 tsp sumac**
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
pinch salt
1/2 cup unsweetened greek or balkan yogurt

For the mushrooms
4 cups white and/or cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
2 tsp sumac
1 tbsp cooking oil (canola, vegetable, etc)
1 handful fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)

* Looking for Instant Polenta? Click here if you're in the U.S.A. and here if you're in Canada. 
** Looking for sumac? Click here if you're in the U.S.A. or here if you're in Canada. 

In a large pan, heat oil. Add mushrooms and reduce heat to medium, sautéeing (without moving around too much) for about 15 minutes, until they have reduced. Add tarragon & sumac. Set aside and keep warm.

Bring water to a boil. Gently stream in polenta and whisk constantly. Reduce heat and continue to whisk gently until mixture thickens (about 5 minutes). Add sumac, turmeric, paprika, salt and yogourt. Spoon into bowls and serve with mushrooms on top, sprinkled with additional sumac and fresh coriander/cilantro.

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