This Creamy Polenta and Mushroom-Tomato Sauce Recipe is one for the regular / easy / healthy dinner rotation! You might not think vegan polenta can be creamy and cheesy, but this recipe is here to prove you wrong! Topped with a savory, but healthy mushroom-kale tomato sauce, this creamy polenta recipe will keep you warm all winter long!
In a small pot, bring the coconut milk and water to a boil. Slowly add the polenta while stirring constantly. Add the salt. Reduce to a simmer and allow to cook for approximately 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. If the polenta becomes too thick to stir, add additional water. You will likely need to add ~2 additional cups of water. The polenta is done when it is smooth and creamy (not gritty or sand-like). I highly recommend reading my blog post on how to cook polenta.
Heat a cast iron skillet and add the olive oil. Heat until shimmering. Add the sliced onions and reduce the heat to medium-low. Stirring occasionally, allow the onions to gently brown. About 15-20 minutes.
Add the garlic and allow to cook until fragrant. Be careful not to burn the garlic. About 1-2 minutes.
Add the fennel seeds, basil, oregano, thyme and tomato paste. Stir until well combined and allow to cook until the tomato paste becomes a dark red. About 2 minutes.
Add the red wine to deglaze the pan (optional).
Add the mushrooms. Stir until well coated.
Add the diced tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes. The sauce should thicken as the liquid from the canned tomatoes cooks off. Season with salt and pepper to taste throughout the simmering process.
While the ragu is simmering, prepare the kale. I highly recommend massaging the kale before adding it to the ragu, It will make it more tender and less bitter. To massage the kale, crunch the torn leaves with your hands. The kale will become darker and less rigid. With five minutes remaining in the cooking process, add the fresh lemon juice and the massaged kale.
Serve in small bowls with a bottom layer of polenta. Spoon the mushroom and kale ragu over the polenta. Serve garnished with fresh parsley, vegan parmesan and crushed red pepper.