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Grilled Balsamic Mushrooms with Polenta with balsamic vinegar, thyme, and Parmesan cheese make the most delicious vegetarian main dish or side.
The first thing that comes to mind when I think about vegetarian grilling is portobello mushrooms. With their meaty texture and earthy flavor, they are one of my favorite things to put on the grill. However since mushrooms don’t really make for a complete dinner, I always find myself spending too much time in the kitchen cooking up the rest of the meal. That all changes with this dish. And polenta on the grill – next level good.
To get things started, let’s talk about the mushrooms. Before grilling them, it’s best to add as much flavor as you can. I like to do this with a quick marinade of balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and red pepper flakes. The soy sauce adds some needed salt but also adds a savory note they works really well with mushrooms. The red pepper flakes add a nice spicy note but can be left off if you don’t like heat. You can also add any kind of herbs you like to this mixture – rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram, or basil would all work. And make sure not to throw away your marinade, it is delicious drizzled on the final dish.
Next up is the polenta. To keep things quick and easy, I like to buy the packaged polenta. It normally can be found near the pasta and usually comes in a round tube. You can buy it with or without flavorings, the sundried tomato version is really tasty with this dish. You can also make your own and refrigerate it into squares. Now the trick to making awesome polenta on the grill is to make sure it is coated with a good helping of olive oil to prevent sticking. This will allow the polenta to crisp up on the outside and stay nice and creamy on the inside. Delish.
Then toss everything on a bed of greens, peppery arugula is perfect, and top with your favorite cheese. Delicious and easy.
When making these Grilled Balsamic Mushrooms with Polenta, keep the following things in mind:
- Mushrooms: Although I love portobellos for this recipe, any mushroom with work. For smaller mushrooms, consider using a grill basket to make sure they don’t fall through the grates of the grill. If you hate mushroom, eggplant is a good substitute.
- Herbs: The marinade can be doctored up using any combination of fresh or dried herbs. Rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram, basil, or parsley are all good options. And make sure to save the marinade to drizzle over the mushrooms and polenta when they come off the grill.
- Cheese: We had a bunch of fresh parmesan in the house so I opted to use that, however there are so many good cheese options for this dish. Consider trying it with goat cheese, feta cheese, blue cheese, fresh mozzarella, or gorgonzola.
- Polenta: For the fastest preparation, go for the premade polenta that is sold in the grocery store. If you have more time or have polenta at home, you can make it from scratch and then chill it. Once it is chilled, cut it into squares and these can be used on the grill.
Looking for other mushroom recipes?
Here are some of the tools and products I used to prepare these Grilled Balsamic Mushrooms with Polenta:
- If you don’t have a gas or charcoal grill at home, a grill pan is a great option for grilling indoors. I used one for years when I lived in an apartment that didn’t allow grills. The two that I use most often are this nonstick version and this cast iron version. The nonstick is great for easy clean-up but the cast iron will give you deeper grill marks and more smoky flavor.
- High quality balsamic vinegar: Since the balsamic vinegar is one of the main flavors in this recipe, it’s really important to choose a high quality one that will pack in the flavor and bring the right amount of sweetness and tartness. This doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune though. Personally I usually buy the Whole Foods 365 Aged Balsamic Vinegar and also enjoy this one and this one.
- Polenta: There are all kinds of options when it comes to premade polenta. Usually I buy mine at Trader Joe’s or the grocery store. I have also tried this version from Amazon and its really good as well.