Recipe: Polenta cake with aubergine, portobello mushroom and mozzarella

This dish was spawned out of a college dinner service where myself, my lecturer Scott and team mate Robert had to come up with a vegetarian dish from what we had going spare in the fridge.  It totally changed my outlook on vegetarian food from bland and boring as this dish was so tasty.  It goes to show that vegetarian food is often passed off on menus where you'd prbably be pleasantly surprised.  Try it next time you're out for dinner; i'm converted, why can't you be?

Serves 2


500g Polenta
4 shallots, finely diced and sweated until soft
Handful parsley, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped and sweated
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 Portobello mushrooms
1 pack of Mozzarella
1 Aubergine, thin half sliced, thick half diced into cubes
Rapeseed oil for frying
100g grated parmesan


1)      Add the polenta in a steady stream to a pot with 2 litres of boiling water adding the sweated shallots, half the parsley and garlic. Whisking constantly until it comes away from the pan.  Then add the parmesan.  Reduce heat and cook until thick and creamy
2)      Spread evenly onto a rectangular plate lined with cling film (About one inch deep is ideal).  Cover and place in the fridge for 2 hours until set.  Then slice into rectangles  roughly the size of the mushroom and reserve.
3)      Lightly oil the mushooms and add the chopped garlic and place under a pre-heated grill and grill until soft with slight golden colour. Then add with the mozzarella until it slightly browns
4)      Meanwhile, heat a frying pan with the rapeseed oil and when hot, fry both the sliced and diced aubergine until golden. 
5)      Place a piece of the polenta cake in the centre of the plate and layer the slices of aubergine on top.  The place the mushroom on top.  Place pieces of the diced aubergine around the plate and sprinkle with parsley.    

     Peter suggests...
        Here we are off to Italy, and picking a Barbera.  Barbera is the third most planted variety in Italy, and due to its low tannin and high acid, it makes it the perfect grape for drinking young, and with food.  You do get bigger, chunkier versions from producers like Roberto Voerzio, but these tend to be more pricy.  I'd stay cheap and go with the lighter flavours of raspberry and cherries with hints of vanilla.  These will go so well with the musty mushroom flavours.  If you really wanted to push the boat out, try really old vintage Bollinger Champagne, as that tastes of mushrooms when it hits about 30 years old, but they are very expensive.
        2008 Ca' Del Matt Barbera d'Asti (Italy, Asti) £8.00 (Widely available)
        2009 Prunotto Fiulot Barbera d'Asti (Italy, Asti) £12.00 (Independent Wine Stores)