This creamy Vegan Polenta with Roasted Mushrooms is incredible with roasted oyster mushrooms! Try this gluten-free polenta for an easy weeknight dinner that's ready in thirty minutes. It's a delicious dish for date night, too!
I love to make this polenta as the weather starts to get cooler and when wild mushrooms are available. Oyster mushrooms are my favorite mushrooms for this recipe, although you can try other kinds!
Another creamy and comforting dish you're sure to enjoy is this quick meal: Creamy Roasted Garlic Pasta. If you'd like a great vegan pasta but something a little lighter, try this Asparagus Mushroom Pasta. These meals, along with the polenta, are perfect for a busy weeknight.
What is polenta?
Polenta is known as grits or coarse cornmeal. The cornmeal is usually yellow for polenta, but it can be white or blue, depending on the variety of corn.
Polenta is a staple dish of northern Italian cuisine. It is made with coarsely ground or medium ground yellow corn, which gives it texture. Although some people call polenta grits, the difference is that corn grits are found in American Southern cuisine, and are made with finely-ground white corn.
Is it grits or polenta? What do you call it? On my package of cornmeal, it says both! To learn more about the differences between the two, read this article.
What type of polenta?
The cornmeal used for polenta can range from fine to coarsely ground. I prefer medium-coarse ground polenta. You can find this type of corn meal in the baking section of the grocery store or in the natural foods section.
The version I buy has been partially de-germinated for a lighter texture and shortened cooking time, and has been ground to a medium grind consistency.
Sometimes I can only find coarse cornmeal (stone-ground). This is a whole grain and contains the corn germ and bran, a source of fiber. For a finer grind, pulverize the cornmeal in a food processor for a few seconds before cooking it to give it a finer texture, similar to that of a medium-coarse grind.
You can use coarse cornmeal, but the cooking time will be longer, about 20 minutes or so. The result will be slightly heavier and not as creamy, but it will have a great flavor!
Here's what you'll need to make this creamy vegan polenta with mushrooms:
- Oyster mushrooms - brush lightly to clean mushrooms, and remove from base, slice into bite-size pieces.
- Extra virgin olive oil or rosemary-infused olive oil.
- Sea salt - I recommend Himalayan sea salt.
- Organic polenta - medium to medium-coarse grind; a coarser grind works as well.
- Dried thyme - this is optional, or try 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- Water and vegetable broth - If you want to use all water for the liquid, it will still be delicious.
- Plant-based milk, plain and unsweetened - My favorite is cashew milk for this recipe, soy milk works also. You can use water if you prefer.
- Vegan butter - for added richness; you can use extra virgin olive oil instead. I like to use both in this recipe.
- Nutritional yeast for umami flavor.
- Red wine vinegar - to stir into the roasted mushrooms.
- Fresh thyme - stir it in at the end and save some thyme sprigs for garnish.
- Vegan Parmesan as a topping (optional)
Prepare the oyster mushrooms by brushing them lightly to clean them. Remove the base, and slice the mushrooms into bite-size pieces.
- 1. Preheat the oven to 425°F and grease a baking sheet. Toss the mushrooms with olive oil and salt. Place the mushrooms on the baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes. Halfway through the cooking time, flip and rotate them so they cook evenly, preferably with a metal spatula.
- 2. Start the polenta. Mix the organic polenta, dried thyme if using (not fresh), water, vegetable broth, plant-based milk, salt, pepper, plant-based butter, olive oil, and nutritional yeast in a saucepan. Let it come to a boil.
- 3. Take the mushrooms out of the oven before they get crispy, drizzle red wine vinegar on them and toss them in the pan. It's nice to have a few crispy bits but you don't want the mushrooms to dry out.
- 4. Stir the polenta mixture with a wooden spoon. Simmer and stir occasionally, making sure the polenta is not sticking to the bottom of the saucepan. Cover the pot if the polenta starts sputtering.
- The polenta is ready when it starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, in approximately 10 to 30 minutes, depending on the polenta you have. It will have a porridge-like consistency. If using fresh thyme, stir it in immediately before serving. For the polenta I use, it usually takes 10 to 15 minutes.
- Taste for seasoning and adjust salt as desired. Serve the polenta in bowls and top with roasted mushrooms and a sprig of thyme for each bowl. If desired, top with vegan Parmesan!
How much liquid?
Depending on how fine or coarse the polenta is ground, the cooking time will vary.
The amount of water will vary depending on how creamy or firm you want your polenta. For 1 cup of polenta, use 4 cups of liquid for creamy polenta. For a firmer polenta, use 3 cups of liquid for 1 cup of polenta.
Substitutions and Variations
Oyster mushrooms - you can try roasting other wild mushrooms such as chanterelle or shiitake mushrooms, or baby bellas.
You can combine them, or choose one type of mushroom. Pan-sautéed or pan-fried lion's mane mushrooms or maitake mushrooms (hen-of-the-woods) would be tasty as well.
Red wine vinegar: You can try white wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar instead of red wine vinegar.
Spicy - add red pepper flakes, from ¼ teaspoon to ½ teaspoon.
CAUTION: Be sure to use a saucepan with high sides since the polenta can easily splatter once it gets hot. Watch out for flying polenta!
Put the lid on the saucepan if this happens, and reduce the heat slightly. While the polenta is cooking, I sometimes I get a few small lumps in it. I just keep stirring and that takes care of it.
When roasting the mushrooms, have some space between each mushroom. Do not crowd them. Give them some space, otherwise they will steam, not roast.
Here's the equipment I can't live without to make this mushroom polenta:
- Baking sheet for roasting the mushrooms.
- Metal spatula to stir the mushrooms while roasting.
- Wooden spoon for stirring the polenta.
- Saucepan for cooking the polenta (a saucier or risotto pan would work as well). I recommend at least a 3-quart size. My saucier is 2.25-quarts and I wish it was a quart bigger to avoid spills.
- Microplane grater/zester for grating the vegan Parmesan.
How to serve it
Serve with a salad, a side of vegetables, and a glass of wine to round out this fantastic meal. For us, this polenta is a whole meal!
This vegan mushroom polenta is perfect as a main dish or a side dish. It's also the perfect side dish for holiday dinners!
After it has cooled, place any leftover polenta in airtight containers and place it in the fridge within two hours. It will get thicker and harden as it cools. The leftovers will not be as creamy, but they will still be delicious. Keep leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days.
You can freeze polenta for up to 3 months. Let it cool and then cut it into slices. Wrap each polenta slice in aluminum foil and put them inside a freezer-safe ziploc bag before storing in the freezer.
If you have room in the freezer, you can freeze the polenta on a tray, leaving space between each slice. Once frozen, store them in a ziploc bag.
Yes, it is entirely plant-based and vegan. Polenta is made from ground corn and water. However, many restaurants add dairy to it, so be sure to ask about how it's prepared when you eat out.
Cornmeal is naturally gluten-free since it does not contain wheat or gluten. If cross-contamination is a concern, buy certified gluten-free cornmeal to ensure that it's completely free of gluten.
If you make this recipe, let me know what you think by ★★★★★ star rating it and leaving a comment below. You can follow me on Instagram and share your creation with me! Just tag me @resplendentkitchen and hashtag #resplendentkitchenrecipes.
Vegan Polenta with Roasted Mushrooms
- baking sheet
- metal spatula
- wooden spoon
- 1 lb oyster mushrooms or baby bella mushrooms brush lightly to clean mushrooms, and remove from base, slice into bite-size pieces
- 1 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil divided, or rosemary-infused olive oil
- 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt divided
- 1 cup organic polenta medium to medium-coarse grind
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme optional, or 1 teaspoon fresh thyme if desired
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 cup organic soy milk or cashew milk, plain and unsweetened
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon plant-based butter
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- ½ tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- ½ cup vegan Parmesan grated, optional, not included in calorie count
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Grease a baking sheet. Prepare oyster mushrooms. Toss with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil. Then toss with ½ teaspoon salt. Place the mushrooms on a greased baking sheet Roast for 20 minutes. Halfway through the cooking time, flip and rotate them so they cook evenly, preferably with a metal spatula.
- Approximately 10 minutes after putting the mushrooms in the oven, start the polenta. Mix the organic polenta, dried thyme if using (not fresh), water, vegetable broth, plant-based milk, 1 teaspoon sea salt, pepper, butter, ½ tablespoon olive oil, and nutritional yeast in a saucepan with high sides. Let it come to a gentle boil.
- Stir frequently at the beginning with a wooden spoon and make sure polenta is not sticking to the bottom of the saucepan. Simmer and stir occasionally. Cover the pot if the polenta starts sputtering. Polenta is ready when it starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, in approximately 10 to 30 minutes, depending on the polenta you have. If using fresh thyme, stir it in immediately before serving. For the polenta I use, it usually takes 10-15 minutes.
- Take the mushrooms out of the oven before they get crispy, drizzle red wine vinegar on them and toss them in the pan.
- Taste for seasoning and adjust salt as desired. Serve polenta in bowls and top with roasted mushrooms and a sprig of thyme for each bowl. If desired, top with vegan Parmesan (not included in calorie count).
- When roasting the mushrooms, have some space between each mushroom. Do not crowd them. Give them some space.
- Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, once cooled.
- Freeze for up to 3 months.
Resplendent Kitchen offers nutritional information for recipes contained on this site as a courtesy. Although resplendentkitchen.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information from online calculators, these figures are estimates.