Polenta's light corn flavor adapts easily to a variety of accompaniments, and it can be as rustic or as elegant as you desire. Here it's topped with an aromatic combination of wild mushrooms, garlic and fresh sage.Satisfying Vegetarian Recipes
Heat the oven to 350°. Oil an 8-by-12-inch baking dish. In a medium saucepan, bring the water and 2 teaspoons of the salt to a boil. Add the cornmeal in a slow stream, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat to moderate. Simmer, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the polenta is very thick and pulls away from the sides of the pan, about 20 minutes. Stir in 4 1/2 tablespoons of the butter and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan. Spread the polenta in the prepared dish.
If using shiitakes or portobellos, remove the stems. Slice all the mushrooms. In a large frying pan, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter over moderately low heat. Add the shallot and cook, stirring, until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms, sage and remaining teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are brown, about 5 minutes. Add the pepper. Pour the mixture over the polenta and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
The polenta can be entirely assembled and refrigerated up to two days ahead. If it's cold rather than room temperature, bake it a few extra minutes.