Café Gratitude is a popular plant-based eatery located in California, serving up some of the most delicious vegan meals you will ever have. Today's recipe of the day comes straight from the restaurant's menu so you can indulge in chef-approved dishes in your own home.

Surprise your partner, family member, or a friend with a plant-based meal they will never forget: Café Gratitude's French-style grilled polenta with mushroom ragout. The recipe is simple to make, easy to follow, and requires just three steps for both the polenta and mushroom ragout. Yet, the final version of this dish looks like a work of art that took days to create.

The polenta has a firm-yet-creamy texture, with a slight hint of corn flavor, which makes this ingredient the perfect base for this dish because of its natural taste. This recipe calls for grilled polenta, which gives it a subtle char, but when you dive into the grain with your fork, you will bite into that creamy, soft, smooth texture.

When you top the polenta with mushroom ragout, the dish transforms into a flavorful masterpiece, with a sweet and savory combination of fresh herbs and crispy vegetables. The mushroom adds a 'meaty' texture, a great way to introduce a nonvegan to dishes they will love. The mix of cremini and shiitake mushrooms is soft and flaky with crisp edges that absorb the olive oil and spices.

This french-style grilled polenta with mushroom ragout will become your award-winning vegan dish and impress whoever you plan to cook for. If you want a delicious appetizer to go with this main meal, try Café Gratitude's kale caesar salad recipe.

For more recipes from Café Gratitude, check out their newest cookbook, Love Is Served.

A message from Café Gratitude: "Polenta is a classic comfort food that we serve all year-round because it's uniquely satisfying and popular with our guests. Plus it's a rich but neutral base that gets along well with whatever dressings or sauces you want to layer over it. In the summer we stick with lighter options like bright puttanesca or pesto in the winter we offer this hearty mushroom ragout layered with our Cashew Ricotta and peppery arugula. While I call for a two-step process of preparing the polenta and then grilling or searing it-which adds really pleasing texture and smoky, caramelized flavor-you could absolutely spoon the ragout over soft polenta and call it a meal."

Grilled Polenta with Mushroom Ragout

Serves 6-8 people

Ingredients

Polenta:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 2 teaspoons Himalayan sea salt
  • 2 cups medium-grind polenta

Mushroom Ragout:

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup diced celery
  • 3/4 cup diced yellow onion
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1/4 cup of red wine
  • 6 1/2 cups (about 1 pound) stemmed and sliced mushrooms (a mix of cremini and shiitake is great here)
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained
  • 1 teaspoon Himalayan sea salt

For Serving:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
  • 4 cups of arugula
  • 1 cashew ricotta
  • 1/2 cup of Brazil nut parmesan
  • 1/2 cup of chopped basil

Instructions

Make the polenta:

  1. Oil a baking sheet with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil and set aside.
  2. In a large pot over high heat, stir the salt and remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil into 6 cups of water and bring to a boil. Whisk in the polenta and immediately reduce the heat to a simmer. Continue whisking to break up any lumps of polenta. When smooth, switch to a long-handled wooden spoon and stir continuously for 5 to 7 minutes until the polenta has softened but retains a pleasant bite.
  3. Spoon the cooked polenta onto the prepared baking sheet, using the back of the wooden spoon to spread it in an even layer. You can spread a few drops of oil on the spoon or a spatula to keep the polenta from sticking to it too much.

For the Mushroom Ragout:

  1. Allow the polenta to cool and set for at least 1 hour and up to overnight in the fridge.
  2. Make the mushroom ragout: In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil.
  3. Add the celery, onion, thyme, rosemary, and garlic and cook for 10 minutes, stirring, for 1 minute, scraping frequently. Add the red wine and stir for 1 minute up any flavorful bits from the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add the mushrooms, capers, and salt and stir to com Cook for 15 minutes, until the mushrooms have softened and gi<ivrm while you grill the pole Remove and discard the herb sprigs.

To serve:

  1. Preheat a grill or skillet over. medium-high heat.
  2. Brush the cooled polenta with a thin layer of olive oil and cut the polenta into 8 large squares.
  3. Grill or pan-fry the polenta squares for 3 to 4 minutes per side, until golden Cut each grilled polenta square diagonally to make 16 total triangles.
  4. You can serve this family-style pretty platter or on individual dinner plates. Layer half of the arugula platter or plates half grilled weight: polenta triangles, the remaining arugula, and the remaining polenta. Top with the mushroom ricotta. Garnish with the Brazil nut Parmesan and basil.