This vegan smoky chipotle polenta with spiced portobellos is a spicy, summery dream. Smoked poblano and chipotle peppers are woven throughout an ultra creamy polenta that gets topped with spiced portobellos and a sweet 'n' tangy mango salsa.
Polenta isn't the most summery dish, but we've had quite the dreary week in Chicago. Thunderstorms have been bookending our days and nights with fleeting pops of sunshine poking through gray clouds.
Since I like to cook to the occasion, I figured a comforting meal was much needed. However, rather than a traditional savory polenta + mushroom pairing, this dish melds savory comfort with bright pops of sunshiny flavor. It hits the spot during this seasonal transition from
late spring pretend summer to real summer.
Polenta is cooked over the stove and brought to life with the addition of smoked poblanos, chipotle peppers, chives, garlic, and olive oil. It's full of smoky flavor and has this slow-warming kick of spice that will keep you coming back for more. Portobellos are tossed in a sweet-and-spicy mixture of coconut sugar, smoked paprika, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon + salt and baked or grilled to juicy tenderness. They are packed with flavor and complement the smokiness in the polenta so nicely. Then...
Are you ready for the sunshiny twist??
You are? Thought so.
A colorful, sweet, and tangy mango salsa rounds out the dish and cuts through the savory notes in the most lovely of ways. Without this salsa, the dish would feel too heavy for a summer's day but with the salsa, well, it becomes vibrant and lively.
...and if we're keeping it real, then I should let you know that I dumped on about a ½ cup more salsa after taking these photos. No dainty salsa enjoyment around here; we go big and sloppy or we go... home (home is here, here is home... confusing).
This dish is a perfect date night meal but could also be doubled or tripled for a larger gathering. If you're not quite feeling the whole slave over the hot stove in the summer vibe, then just make the salsa and pair it with tortilla chips. It's super easy and packed with flavor, and there's no shame in sticking with salsa.
Also, I'm sending you all a huge and grateful thank you for being so supportive and awesome. I've received a handful of heartwarming emails with kind words about the blog, and each one has meant so much to me. Thank you for taking time out of your day to read, comment, email, like, etc. You are all so wonderful and inspiring.
I hope you all have a fun-filled weekend! Dan and I are celebrating our 2-year wedding anniversary a week early and are looking forward to a weekend of good food (finally checking out Mana and Eataly), cute movies (How to Train Your Dragon 2), and lakeshore bike rides. Cheers to summer and to you!
Today's Sound Bite is dedicated to my #1 inspiration, patient taste-tester, and best friend, Dan. I know, I know. Cheesefest, but just this once.
Smoky Chipotle Polenta with Spiced Portobellos
For the Polenta
- 3 cups water
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup polenta
- 1 poblano pepper
- ½ to 1 tablespoon minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, depending on desired level of spice
- ¼ cup chopped chives
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, finely minced
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon sea salt or more, to taste
For the Mushrooms
- 4 large portobello mushrooms, thoroughly washed
- 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
For Mango Salsa
- 1 cup quartered grape tomatoes
- ¾ cup diced fresh mango
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- ¼ cup finely diced shallots or red onion
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
For the Polenta
- Bring the water and ½ teaspoon salt to a boil in a large saucepan. While whisking, very slowly add in the polenta. Make sure you add just a little bit at a time while quickly whisking, otherwise you'll end up with clumps. Once all of the polenta is added, continue whisking for 1-2 minutes to smooth out any clumps. Reduce heat to low and let the polenta simmer for 25-30 minutes, whisking every minute or two to prevent sticking.
- While the polenta is cooking, char the whole poblano pepper over an open flame. I just set it over a burner and turned it over with tongs every few minutes. Once the skin is completely blackened, move the pepper to a large bowl and cover it with a damp paper towel. Let it sit for 10 minutes to steam. Once steamed, carefully remove the charred skin, de-stem, and de-seed. Then, finely dice the pepper and set aside.
- Once the polenta has finished cooking, turn off the heat and stir in the diced poblano pepper, chipotle peppers, chives, olive oil, garlic, and additional salt.
For the Portobellos
- Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Add the coconut sugar, paprika, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, and sea salt to a small bowl and mix together.
- Place the washed portobellos in a large sealable bag, pour in the spice rub, and toss to coat.
- Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper, place the portobellos (gill-side-up) on the pan, and bake for 25 minutes. You can also grill the portobellos if you prefer.
- Once the portobellos are tender, remove the pan from the oven and let them rest for 5 minutes. Then, turn the mushrooms over and carefully slice each.
For the Mango Salsa
- Add the tomatoes, mango, cilantro, shallots, lime juice, and salt to a small bowl and toss.
- Drop a mound of the polenta onto a plate, top with a sliced Portobello, and garnish with mango salsa (note: I added a lot more salsa to mine after photographing them). Repeat and serve.
Miss Polkadot says
Smoky, spicy, portobellos and polenta? This sounds incredibly good. I've been on a huge polenta kick lately after declaring I didn't like it for years. Funny how tastes can change.
I hope you and Dan will have an awesome early 2-year anniversary! Lakeshore bike rides are perfect - if the weather plays along. I hear you on the switch from pretend summer to real summer - still waiting for that over here, too. And eating polenta comfort meals while I do.
Thank you for such a sweet and thoughtful comment! We're having a great anniversary celebration weekend. Fortunately, the weather held out just long enough for us to fit in a bike ride before a crazy storm with torrential downpours moved in on the city yesterday evening.
Also, I hear you on the changing taste buds! Believe it or not, I didn't like basil when I was younger but grew to absolutely love it as an adult... and name a blog after it :)
We love grilling leftover polenta in the summer, so we think polenta is an all-weather dish. This looks wonderful.
Thanks, Greg! Grilled polenta sounds delicious. I will have to try that out this summer!
Celeste Jackson says
I love the way you topped it with the vegetables for more texture. Much more appealing version of Polenta than some of the traditional recipes.
Well, thank you! It's fun to have a variety of textures to spruce up the polenta :)
Hi there! I'm new to your blog. This dish caught my eye, it looks ah-mazing!!! I have an embarrassing question for you..the recipe calls for 1 cup of polenta. Is that the same as cornmeal? Im so looking forward to making this
Hi, Danielle! They're essentially the same thing but with different coarseness. If you can find coarsely-ground cornmeal, that will work, but I can never seem to find it. The finely-ground cornmeal typically found in canisters will not work -- the result would be paste-like! If you can't find anything labeled "polenta," look for corn grits. I hope this helps!