polenta with mushrooms, kale and roasted carrots

A super simple creamy polenta recipe with a tasty mushroom, kale and red onion sauce, along with dijon brushed roasted carrots. It's vegan, gluten and dairy free.

freshly picked carrots
bunch freshly picked carrots
freshly picked carrots
fresh carrots
kale, mushrooms, carrots and red onion

I like routine - it can be cathartic, even necessary. But at times can feel oppressive and restrictive. When I become particularly aware of the daily repetition, a slightly suffocating feeling emerges from the depths of my being, gripping, like two imaginary hands forcibly choking me. Breath doesn’t flow in and out the way it ought to, energy feeling trapped. 

There’s an urging to depart from repetitive thoughts, actions and ways. And perhaps not in a grand fashion, like picking up and moving to a new country but by simply changing something in my routine. Even the slightest shift can suddenly redirect my focus, rearrange my thinking and open up new ideas. That’s when I feel an ease, a release, a lessening in the grip around my throat. Breath flows steady. In and out. 

I believe these smothering feelings are necessary for growth and change. It’s our body and mind’s way of sending us signals that we need to refocus and rearrange, if only energetically. I often think it’s in those moments that the universe is trying to tell us something and all we have to do is listen. It can be something substantial or merely changing up routine in the kitchen. 

Feeling stagnant comes in many forms and I realized that no matter how much I love fresh tomatoes, zucchini and strawberries, there comes a point in the season where I just want to move on, experience something new and fresh. And sure, there’s still over a month of summer left, but I’m finding a certain shift happening every August. I’m ready to experiment with fall produce. 

Luckily I need not look too far for inspiration as my little garden is the perfect muse. A few kale leaves and a bunch of carrots set the tone for the recipe. I had leftover red onion along with some sliced mushrooms in the fridge and pulled it all together in no time. But there was one thing missing. A base for what would be a mushroom ragout and roasted carrots.

While neither paleo nor whole 30, but certainly gluten free, today’s recipe base holds a certain sweetness for me and was a staple growing up. And it is a 180 from what I normally cook but I wanted to go with it. I’m talking about polenta. I felt it was the ideal companion for the flavorful mushrooms, kale and roasted carrots. 

It’s become one of my favorite dishes not just because it’s incredibly easy to make but but tasted really freaking delicious! You won’t miss the meat as the mushrooms create a rich and hearty sauce that’s rich yet healthy and nutritious. But you could always experiment with a protein if you wanted to. Check out the below suggestion.

Should you soak the polenta first?

While not necessary if you’re in a hurry, I highly recommend it. I do eat some gluten free grains from time to time, and when I do, they usually have to be soaked first. That makes a big impact on digestion and can cut down on the anti-nutrients often found in grains.

Can you use a paleo substitute for polenta?

Absolutely! You can find a recipe for home made cauliflower rice here and what you’ll want to do is just give the cauliflower rice some additional pulses until it reaches the desired polenta size.

Can you add a protein?

Yes, you can. I’ve tried several variations of this recipe and it works particularly well with a quality sausage. Before you start cooking the onion, you could simply cook the sausage first, remove and set aside and then add in the onions and continue with the recipe. Before serving, just slice the sausage and toss it in with the mushroom mix.

Whichever variation you make, you’ll find this to be a perfect comfort food for any time of year, but it works especially well once the season turns a little cooler.

kale mushrooms and red onion
polenta with mushrooms, kale and roasted carrots
polenta with mushrooms, kale and roasted carrots
polenta with mushrooms, kale and roasted carrots
polenta with mushrooms, kale and roasted carrots

polenta with mushrooms, kale and roasted carrots

  • soaking time: 12 hours

  • prep time: 10 minutes

  • cooking time: 30 minutes

  • makes: 4-6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dry polenta

  • 3 cups water

  • 1/2 cup broth of your choice

  • 2 tbsp ghee

  • 5 tbsp olive oil divided

  • 1 lb portabella mushrooms

  • 1/2 red onion, chopped

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 cups chopped kale

  • 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme

  • 1 lb carrots with stem

  • 1 1/2 tsp salt divided

  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper, divided

  • 1 tsp dijon mustard

  • 1 tsp lemon juice

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (or broth if whole 30)

  • optional: chopped Italian parsley


Equipment:

  • sheet pan

  • parchment paper

  • soup pot

  • small mixing bowl

  • large skillet (preferably cast iron)


Directions:

  1. In large soup pot, add polenta along with 3 cups water, 1/2 tsp salt, cover and let soak overnight.

  2. The next day, start simmering polenta for 10 minutes stirring continuously. Add broth and continue simmering, while stirring regularly for another 10-15 minutes. Add ghee and if you want, additional salt and turn heat to the lowest setting and continue simmering.

  3. * If you don’t want to pre-soak the polenta, just follow package instructions.

  4. Meanwhile preheat oven to 400 degrees.

  5. Trim greens off carrots and slice them in half. Add carrots to parchment paper lined sheet and add 1 tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper and combine. Roast carrots for 25 minutes or until tender but with a slight bite.

  6. In small mixing bowl combine dijon mustard, 3 tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp lemon juice and whisk well. Set aside.

  7. Meanwhile, preheat cast iron skillet on medium heat, add 1 tbsp olive oil and chopped red onion and a pinch of salt. Cook until translucent, about 10 minutes. Next add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Turn up heat, add wine or broth and deglaze pan for 2 minutes.

  8. Reduce heat back to medium and add sliced, mushrooms, thyme and kale. Cook for 10 minutes until mushrooms are soft and kale has wilted.

  9. Remove carrots from oven and immediately brush with 1/3 of the dijon lemon and oil mixture.

  10. Add the remaining mixture to the mushrooms and stir well.

  11. To plate, add polenta, roasted carrots, mushroom mixture and if you want, sprinkle with chopped parsley or additional thyme.

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Polenta is easy to make and versatile. Add a quick mushroom ragout and roasted carrots and you’ve got a delaicious, vegan, dairy free and gluten free dinner! Check it out for yourself! #vegan #calmeats #polenta #vegetarian #glutenfree #dairyfree #polenta #mushrooms #fallrecipes #fallfood #comfortfood
Polenta is easy to make and versatile. Add a quick mushroom ragout and roasted carrots and you’ve got a delaicious, vegan, dairy free and gluten free dinner! Check it out for yourself! #vegan #calmeats #polenta #vegetarian #glutenfree #dairyfree #polenta #mushrooms #fallrecipes #fallfood #comfortfood
Polenta is easy to make and versatile. Add a quick mushroom ragout and roasted carrots and you’ve got a delaicious, vegan, dairy free and gluten free dinner! Check it out for yourself! #vegan #calmeats #polenta #vegetarian #glutenfree #dairyfree #polenta #mushrooms #fallrecipes #fallfood #comfortfood

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chicken tetrazzini with rutabaga noodles

rutabaga noodles
shiitake mushrooms and parsley
tetrazzini chicken over rutabaga noodles
tetrazzini chicken over rutabaga noodles
tetrazzini chicken over rutabaga noodles

Does everything happen for a reason or does a haphazard thing merely set something in motion making it appear as though it does? I don’t have the answer to that but I will say rutabaga is amazing. Okay perhaps a rather bizarre way to start a blog post but it always fascinates me when one seemingly insignificant event leads me to make a dish that turns out to be a favorite - maybe of all time.

If you follow this blog or my Instagram stories, you probably know all about my infatuation with produce; my need to obsessively photograph what I see. A rutabaga, which I would often pass over as not being particularly striking, on that day, caught my attention. The details and subtle colors of this large root demanded to be captured. There was something about it…a depth I hadn’t before noticed.

That evening while looking for ways to use leftover chicken, I came across a recipe for chicken tetrazzini - the classic style, which includes milk, flour, butter, breadcrumbs…in essence all the things I cannot have. It was something I didn’t give a second thought to and moved on until I woke up the next morning convinced that I had to make chicken tetrazzini the paleo and whole30 way and not only that but that I would be using rutabaga noodles instead of pasta.

I admit, I’d never made rutabaga noodles prior to this dish but thought, why the hell not? And so an idea was born and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. At 8am I was at the market buying rutabaga, shiitake mushrooms and chicken with vehement determination to make my version of paleo chicken tetrazzini come to fruition.

It is so very rare that something I envisioned so clearly actually turns out to match the idea. The earthy flavor of the rutabaga works incredibly well with tender chicken thighs and creamy mushroom sauce finishing the whole dish with almond crumble, which gives it depth.

Since milk is out of the equation, I opted for coconut milk. I wasn’t sure how this would work out as I didn’t want an overly coconutty flavor but the salt and lemon cut through the forward coconut taste, leaving only the creaminess behind.

I knew I was going to love this dish the second I smelled the shallots, garlic, wine and mushrooms and I hope you will love this creamy chicken tetrazzini just as much.

italian parsley
tetrazzini chicken over rutabaga noodles
tetrazzini chicken over rutabaga noodles

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chicken tetrazzini over rutabaga noodles

  • prep time: 10 minutes

  • cooking time: 40 minutes

  • makes: 4 servings

Ingredients:

For rutabaga noodles:

  • 1 large rutabaga

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • pinch salt

For chicken tetrazzini:

  • 2 tbsps olive oil divided

  • 1.5 lbs skinless, boneless chicken thighs

  • 3/4 tsp salt, divided

  • 1/2 tsp ground, pepper divided

  • 1/2 lb shiitake mushrooms, sliced

  • 1/2 lb cremini mushrooms, sliced

  • 2 large shallots finely chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice

  • 1 rounded tsp fresh thyme, chopped

  • 2 tbsp fresh Italian parsley, chopped, divided

  • 1/2 glass dry white wine (use broth is whole 30)

  • 1.5 cups full fat coconut milk

For almond crumble:

  • 1/4 cup toasted almonds, ground

  • 1 tsp olive oil

  • pinch salt

Equipment:

Directions:

Spiralize rutabaga and set it asides.

In food processor or blender add toasted almonds and grind finely. Add to small bowl with olive oil and salt and set aside.

Remove chicken from package and pat dry with paper towels and season with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Heat cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and chicken and cook for 7-8 minutes per side until cooked through. Cover with foil and set aside to rest.

In the same pan, add 1 tbsp olive oil, shallots and a pinch of salt. Cook for 2-3 minutes until shallots are translucent. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Increase heat to high, add wine or broth (if Whole 30) and deglaze pan by scraping off the brown bits. .

Reduce heat back to medium, add mushrooms, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper thyme and parsley and cook for 10 minutes until mushrooms are soft but still have a bite.

Add coconut milk and lemon juice, turn heat down and simmer for 10 minutes.

Cut chicken into bite size pieces and add it back to sauce and heat through for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat medium frying pan, add oil and rutabaga noodles and cook stirring continuously for 3-5 minutes until noodles have softened.

To plate, add rutabaga noodles, chicken and mushrooms sauce, sprinkle with almond crumble and top with additional fresh chopped Italian parsley.


I haven’t been this smitten over a dish in a long time. This creamy chicken tetrazzini over rutabaga noodles, topped with almond crumble will wow you and you won’t believe it’s paleo and whole 30 too! #paleo, #whole30pasta #whole30 #paleopasta #mushrooms #chicken #chickentetrazzini #calmeats #eatrealfood #grainfree #glutenfree #dairyfree


stuffed mushrooms with rice, walnuts, bacon and raisins

rice bag, mushrooms and parsley
mushrooms and parsley
rice, mushrooms and parsley

Mushrooms hold a certain mystery. Earthy, magical and delicious.

In my younger years, my parents often took 2 vacations a year. It was the beach during the summer months and mountains in the fall. Since I have an utter obsession with water, the beach was always my preferred place. While it was packed with people, laughter and excitement exploding all around, the mountains offered the opposite. I viewed them as an enigma - intimidating and humbling. 

Our vacations generally involved a lot of hiking; long days filled with my searching for edible clover, drinking fresh water from tiny creeks and stopping to investigate every mushroom I spotted. 

rice, mushrooms and parsley
stuffed mushrooms with parsley, rice, bacon, walnuts and raisins
rice, mushrooms nd parlsey

Mushrooms fascinated me. I never was allowed to touch them. As relaxed as my parents were about things, that was the one thing they wouldn't budge on. And naturally, being told that I couldn't do something made me want it all the more. I would get on the ground, admire the shapes, the earthy colors, the drops of dew slowly making their way off the cap. My parents waited. They understood. Kids need the time to explore. 

But let's fast forward to today. I don't forage for mushrooms, though maybe some day I will. I pick them up at the farmers market or grocery store and sauté them with ghee and herbs. 

Today I wanted to try something a little different. An appetizer that's easy to make, with simple ingredients that are accessible to everyone. Whether you're hosting a March Madness party, making them for Easter or just entertaining friends and family, this is an easy one to throw together. I'm using one of my pantry staples and create this delicious appetizer that's sure to please a crowd.

I've been using Mahatma rice for some time now. It's flavorful, versatile, delicious and affordable. You can check out Mahatma rice here. For this dish, I decided to infuse the rice with green tea, golden raisins and toss it together with a combination of sautéed shallots, reduced white wine and bacon and top it with some fresh parsley. Then I take the mixture and stuff it in baby Portabella mushrooms and bake it for 15 minutes. An easy appetizer you can toss together even as your hungry guests arrive. Happy March everyone! 

stuffed mushrooms, parsley
stuffed mushrooms on board with parsley
stuffed mushrooms on board

stuffed mushrooms with rice, walnuts, bacon and raisins 

  • Prep time: 5 minutes

  • Cooking time 30-35 minutes

  • Serves 6-8

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 cup Mahatma rice thoroughly rinsed

  • 1 green tea bag (optional)

  • 1 1/2 cups water

  • 1/4 cup golden raisins

  • 2 pints baby Portabella mushrooms, stems removed and hollowed out

  • 2 slices of uncured, nitrate free bacon chopped

  • 2 shallots, chopped

  • 1/4 cup white wine (optional use broth)

  • 2 tbsp finely chopped walnuts

  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Equipment: 

  • medium sauce pan

  • large frying pan

  • parchment paper

  • baking sheet

Directions: 

In sauce pan combine rice, water, tea bag and raisins. Bring to a boil, remove tea bag, cover and turn heat down to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes, turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In frying pan, add bacon and cook for 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring continuously. Remove bacon pieces with slotted spoon and rest on paper towel lined plate, leaving bacon drippings in pan. 

Add shallots and pinch of salt and sauté on low heat for 5-7 minutes, stirring continuously, until shallots caramelize. Deglaze with wine and increase heat for 1-2 minutes until wine reduces. Turn off heat. 

Once rice is cooked, add to frying pan, along with walnuts, salt, pepper and 1 tbsp parsley. Add most of the bacon back in reserving a little to top mushrooms once they finish baking. Stir to combine.

Place mushroom caps on parchment paper lined backing sheet and top with as much of the rice filling as you'd like. Bake for 15 minutes. Once mushrooms are baked, top with leftover bacon and additional parsley. 

(This post is sponsored by Mahatma Rice)



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apple sweet potato and mushroom hash

apple sweet potato and mushroom hash

It's fall. In our house we take this time of year very seriously. By that I mean, we want to do as many fall activities as possible. One of them involves apple picking. It's been a long standing tradition my husband and I started years ago. It generally involves eating 3 or 4 while picking (You know you do it too) to the point of nausea. There isn't a time in my daily life where I would consider eating that many apples but things are different when you're in the orchard. 

Anyway, apple picking this year was slightly different. I didn't consider what it would be like with a 16 month old and a 4 year old. We certainly couldn't linger about and take our time, blissfully picking apples. My son was good about it, but was mostly laying in the orchard complaining that he's tired or running through a nearby pumpkin patch, while my daughter was busy attempting to eat everything form apples to rocks and whatever else she could find in her path. Meanwhile, my husband and I were speed picking 10 lbs of apples. 

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chicken thighs with strawberries and mushrooms

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I know what you're thinking: "Strawberries, mushrooms and chicken?" I realize it's a very unlikely combination but I recently heard a chef talk about some unusual ingredient pairings and that piqued my interest. There are several compounds chicken, strawberries and mushrooms share, which makes this trio work quite well together. I'm intrigued whenever there is a deviation from the norm. Something that defies the standard way of cooking. 

I set out to try a recipe which would either be a disaster or would completely surprise me. I was stunned and delighted at how beautifully the ingredients worked. This recipe is quite quick to do and won't disappoint. The longest part is just marinating the chicken. If you're really pressed for time, 15-20 minutes will do but ideally an hour is best. 

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