I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about Midwestern food since starting work on a new zine about Jello salad (forthcoming Summer 2021), so now seems like a good time to share another Midwestern-mets-Pacific Northwest recipe: Polenta Casserole with Spring Onions and Mushrooms.
I haven’t made a casserole with canned soup and egg noodles for 10 years or so–not since I moved to Japan, although I did make tuna noodle casserole in grad school a lot. The recipe below is definitely more labor intensive than a casserole made with canned and dry ingredients because you have to caramelize onions and sauté a bunch of vegetables before assembling. (That may not be your thing, and that’s okay!)
This casserole is a perfect savory vegetarian/gluten-free dish for small, vaccinated queer brunch. Just thought I’d reiterate this is a queer food blog here, since my tagline “A Queer Food Blog” pissed off some person so much this March that they wrote me a hate mail and then wrote back to call me “obsessed with my genitals” for :checks notes: saying I am bi and nonbinary in my bio. Which, fun fact, has nothing to do with my junk. Really, it’s just cishet people telling on themselves. Who codified their ideas about gender and sexuality into legal and social institutions? Who’s obsessed with genitals (their own and others’), as evidenced by the fact they keep burning down forests or blowing themselves up in gender reveals? Who even came up with the concept of “legal” gender at all? Maybe we all wouldn’t have to spend our time, energy and money on legal battles for basic human rights if y’all straight cisgender people could stop weaponizing your ideas about gender against LGBTQIA+ folks?
Speaking of which, some recommended listening: Episode 94 of Gender Reveal Podcast for “gender as a local social concept.”
This recipe was one of my June 2020 bonus recipes for $10+ patrons on Patreon. If you like the work I do and want to support me since WordPress ad income is a joke these days, you can support me on Patreon for as little as $2/month. My Patreon income funds printing zines, especially solo zines; paying tabling fees; paying my domain costs; and for my P.O. box.
Polenta Casserole with Spring Onions and Mushrooms
Adapted from “Spring Onion Polenta Tart” by Sodium Girl on Food52.
Time: about 1 hour.
Separate the dark green steams and bulbs of
- 5 large red and/or white spring onions
and clean both parts well, as the stems and leaves tend to collect dirt. Set aside the green stems.
Thinly slice the onion bulbs into half moons. Heat
- 1 Tablespoon (14 g, .5 oz) salted butter
in a skillet, and add the onions. Caramelize the onions by cooking them on medium-low for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cook until very soft and browned; onions will reduce in size.
Set aside to cool for 15 minutes, then mix caramelized onions with
- 1/4 cup (70 g, 2.5 oz) Greek-style/strained yogurt
and set aside.
While the onions are cooling, sauté in olive oil or butter until soft and reduced slightly
- 1/3 lb (150 g, 5.3 oz) of mushrooms (I like blue oyster, shiitake, or morels)
Remove the mushrooms from the pan and set aside, then dice and sauté the
- leftover green stems of the onions
for about 2 minutes. Set aside.
In a medium pot, bring to a gentle boil
- 3 cups (700 mL, 24 fl oz) water
and slowly whisk in
- 1 cup (28 g, 4. 3 oz) yellow cornmeal / polenta
Continue whisking until the polenta has thickened, then add
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or garlic salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
When the polenta is somewhat “dry,” remove from heat. Stir in the
- onion-yogurt mixture
- sautéd mushrooms
and spread the polenta mixture into a 2-quart casserole dish (the casserole is about 1-quart volume) or a 13″x9″x2″ dish. Top with the
- sautéd green parts of the onion
- more black pepper
Bake at 450 F (232 C) for 10-15 minutes, until the polenta is firm and golden. Serve warm, with roasted asparagus, a green salad, crusty bread, and/or a poached egg.