Today I feel like the luckiest person in the world. I am writing to you from my new favorite spot in our little atrium herb and vegetable garden. When we moved in, the atrium was a dry dirt plot filled with overgrown plants. It was not an inviting place and had not been given any love for a long time. I knew it had so much potential and pictured fresh herbs, tomato and bell pepper plants, and beautiful flowers thriving. Now, with some sweat equity, help from my super handy Dad, and Pinterest, I am enjoying watching it grow.
One of my boys has been keeping a very close eye on the daily changes with our heirloom and yellow pear tomatoes as well as our orange and red bell peppers. We have picked leaves off of every fresh herb to smell them and he can now identify basil, mint, oregano, lemon thyme, and cilantro. I think it’s so important for children to learn about how food grows and to be able to prepare their own meals.
Herbs don’t just look and smell good. They also have a wealth of health benefits including protective polyphenols. Polyphenols are plant compounds with potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. With all these wonderful fresh herbs available, I decided to make a fresh herb polenta dish using other vegetables I had in the fridge. The herbs paired perfectly with polenta (also known as corn grits), goat cheese, zucchini and mushrooms. This recipe is versatile and a combination of fresh and dried herbs could easily be used depending on what is available. Bon Appetit!
Fresh Herb Polenta with Mushrooms
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup polenta (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 ounces Goat Cheese
- 1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
- Fresh herbs such as oregano, thyme, garlic chives, and basil
- 2-3 cups Cremini Mushrooms, quartered
- 2 small zucchini, cut slightly larger than mushrooms
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced onion
- 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons sweet marsala wine
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Directions: Cook polenta according the package directions for making “cereal.” Bring water to a boil, add polenta and salt. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 5-6 minutes stirring occasionally. Remove polenta from heat, cover, and let stand for a couple of minutes. Stir in butter, goat cheese, parmesan cheese, and chopped fresh herbs. Cover polenta to keep warm while prepping the vegetables. In a small skillet over medium heat, add olive oil, onion, garlic, mushrooms, and zucchini. Saute for 5-6 minutes and add wine and black pepper. Continue to saute until vegetables are tender. Serve vegetable mixture over the polenta and top with more fresh herbs, goat cheese salt and pepper if desired.