Polenta, Mushrooms and Broccoli

Choose a head of broccoli about 250g in weight. Slice off the florets and set aside, then cut the thin stems into short lengths. Discard the thick end of the stem.

Bring a saucepan of water to the boil, salt it, then add the broccoli stems, let them cook for 2 minutes then remove with a draining spoon and plunge into a bowl of iced water. Add the florets to the boiling water, leave for a minute only, then drain and add them to the stems.

Cut 100g of small, brown chestnut mushrooms into halves or quarters, depending on their size. Peel and finely chop 3 plump cloves of garlic.

Bring 500ml of vegetable stock to the boil in a small pan. Rain in 125g of quick-cooking polenta and stir for 5 minutes. As it thickens, pour in 75ml of warmed double cream and 50g of soft butter.

Warm 4 tbsp of olive oil in a shallow pan, add the mushrooms, moving them round the pan as they start to colour. Toss in the broccoli stems and garlic, fry for a minute or two, then add the florets.

Spoon the polenta into dishes, tip the mushrooms, broccoli and garlic over the polenta then trickle a ribbon of fruity olive oil over the top. 
Enough for 2

The trick

Quick-cooking polenta has a softer texture than the traditional coarse variety and is best for the soft, creamy dish here. Once it starts to thicken, the porridge will pop and splutter, so take care as you stir.

The twist

Add gorgonzola or fontina to the polenta if you wish, or grated parmesan or pecorino. I sometimes add both. Occasionally, I stir in a little finely chopped crisp bacon together with the fat in which it has cooked. Mushrooms, garlic and greens work rather wonderfully with the buttery mash, but you could introduce spring onions, too, adding them at the same time as the garlic.

Notes mentioning this note

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