Thursday, October 9, 2008

Weekend Herb Blogging # 153 - Fried Polenta Tart with Sage, Mushroom and Mascarpone Sauce

Polenta Tart Wedges

Tiny flecks of pungent sage cut through the cream to
dominate a dish rich in woodsy flavor and hearty texture.

Sage Leaf

Common sage - not as innocent as it looks.

Botanically a salvia and a member of the mint family, sage has enjoyed a reputation through history as a panacea. Though it is high in antioxidants, its true calling is culinary, where it shines in unctuously rich recipes. It is especially prized in meat and poultry dishes, and is the key ingredient in traditional Thanksgiving stuffing.

Fried Polenta Tart with Sage, Mushroom and Mascarpone Sauce – My own recipe


1 cup yellow stone-ground cornmeal
3 cups water, salted with 1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil

3 cups crimini mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup dry vermouth or white wine
6 ounces mascarpone cheese (substitutions not recommended)
3 tablespoons fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
½ teaspoon salt
Ground pepper
Parsley for garnish (optional)


In a large saucepan over medium heat, bring salted water to a boil. Add the cornmeal, stirring with a wooden spoon to combine. Reduce heat to low and simmer mixture for 10 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent lumps. Stir in olive oil. Simmer another 10 minutes. Mixture will thicken and somewhat dry, enough to leave the sides and bottom of the pan. Turn out mixture into a greased 8-inch tart tin (the kind with a removable bottom works best). Use a cake spatula to level mixture. Leave to cool and set in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Once set, the tart will easily release in one solid, heavy piece. Cut tart into wedges. In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, grill the wedges on each side until browned. Transfer wedges to a cookie sheet and place in a warm oven (under 200 degree F) until ready to plate and sauce.

15 minutes before serving, prepare sauce. In a large skillet, sauté mushrooms in olive oil over low heat until they are half their original size. Add garlic and continue to sauté until fragrant, but not overly browned. Add vermouth or white wine. Simmer until the liquid is reduced by half. Carefully stir in mascarpone. It will liquefy as it heats. Add sage leaves and barely simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Add salt, and pepper to taste. Spoon over polenta wedges. Garnish with optional parsley. Serve immediately. Serves 4-6 as a starter; 2 as a very filling entrée. --

Polenta Wedge

This week I have the pleasure of hosting my third stint of Weekend Herb Blogging for Kalyn Denny of Kalyn's Kitchen, creator of this wildly popular event. There is still plenty of time to create, post and submit your recipe to me (thewellseasonedcook AT yahoo DOT com). Latecomers are welcome as long as I have not published the round-up, scheduled for Monday night, October 13, New York time. In case you are new to Weekend Herb Blogging or haven't participated in a while, Kalyn revised her rules for participation effective on July 20, 2008. Please take some time to familiarize yourself with them. For additional reference, including links to all the previous round-ups, as well as who is slated to host in the coming weeks, Kalyn has a convenient one-stop page full of information.

Thanks to those of you who have already sent in your recipes. I look forward to receiving others along the way to the round-up! See you then!


  1. Well.

    Doesn't that look divine?

    So. I'm fossicking around in the new (huge) back garden and what should I find? Three enormous sage plants, with beautiful purple flowers, just ready for some usage. I know exactly what I'm making with some of them...

  2. This looks heavenly! Great combination, and I'm sure the fresh sage adds a wonderful flavor. I'll do my best to get an entry in (though I've been finding it hard to meet the new requirements these days!).

  3. lovely dish - glad to see yet another example of why sage is not just for carnivores. Not sure how I will go with WHB but will give it some thought - and be sure to check the round up even if I am not in it

  4. We do not use sage much in Indian Cooking but that will not stop me after seeing this tempting polenta!

  5. I think I've always planted sage as part of a garden. I find that all herbs make wonderful garden plants - they're not fussy to grow and they give so much!

    Now....As for that polenta? Oh, girl, you've got my attention! I am soooo going to make this dish!

  6. i didnt realise sage was so important for thanksgiving - in greece, we use sage in dried form as a tea

  7. Only once have I had a good experience with polenta! Another time I ate it was in a flight and it smelled of some very unpleasant turkey sauce. The third time was ... I don't remember, it smelt anyway, independently, I think. :-)

  8. That looks like a really tasty way to dress up some polenta.

  9. Sage is one of my favorite flavors, especially in a creamy sauce. YUM.

  10. I am a big fan of polenta. This topping looks delicious-- a lovely dish.

  11. Fabulous! You are great with food styling Susan, I like how you reserved a few mushroom slices for garnish.

  12. This looks lovely. I so often overlook sage but I bet it is great with the polenta.

  13. ciao susan!!
    what a nice dish!!
    I love sage...put it almost everywhere! eh eh
    i'm working on the whb recipe...
    will back to you soon.
    thanks's for hosting.
    have a nice sunday!

  14. Yum. This looks so amazing. We had a somewhat similar dish at a restaurant in Brooklyn recently, and I've been saying I meant to recreate it. Also, our sage plant is giant, so this is perfect. Thank you!

  15. One of my favorite restaurants in Boston has a similar dish on the menu, and after offering it for several years, the chef decided it was time for a change. Well, the first week it was no longer on the menu, customers began to complain -- and he put it back on the menu and it's been there ever since, for 20 years!

  16. Susan, this dish looks fabulous. The idea of having this sauce with the polenta is just perfect as it adds the so much needed moisture - perhaps it is because I am not a big fan of polenta myself. Sage is such an underused herb. Thanks for hosting this week's event.

  17. What a great recipe this is and I love the sauce which you drizzled over the tart. It looks pretty & artistic ;) Btw, sorry I can't participate in WHB this week, but I do have an entry for this month's Legume Love Affair (hopefully I didn't get the definition of legume wrong hehe) ... take care my friend ^o^

  18. Such an elegant creation! You are always such an inspiration to me.

  19. Oh yes, this sounds just wonderful. I love sage and am always looking for more ways to use it.

  20. This looks wonderfully good, Susan. So elegant... a perfect light lunch.

  21. Looks fantastic. I am so thinking this is the way to use the last of my sage before the cold gets it.

  22. may I give a suggestion to peabody?

    you can also dry the sage and use it dryed.
    put the leaves on a oven plate and then in oven on a very low temperature. leave it so for 2-3 hours and then let cool.
    put in a glass jar and keep in a cool and dark place.
    you can also do a perfumed vinegar.
    put some leaves in 1 liter of white wine vinegar and store in a dark cool palce for 15 days.
    then filter and use.
    it have a fantastic perfum..and gives a special touch on simple salad.


  23. I just realized reading this fresh sage is my favorite herb!

  24. Beautiful. That looks absolutely delicious.

  25. That tart looks so absolutely amazing. I can't wait to try it here at home.

  26. Joanna - Thank you. Sage is great to tame any rich or strong flavor.

    Thank you, dear Harini.

    Toni - You can pull off a few leaves right from your own plant. Beats having to buy a whole mess of it, most going to waste.
    Glad you like the dish. I hope you enjoy it.

    Maria - Sage tea sounds delightful.

    Sra - Well, I wouldn't trust anything consumed in an airplane as authentic or quality. Airlines could make even the meager peanuts they serve these days taste like moth balls. ; D

    Hi, Kevin. Thanks!

    Welcome, Hilary! Glad we agree. Thank you for visiting.

    Thank you, Alexa. It really was delicious.

    You are so sweet, Lori Lynn - and sharp eyed. Thanks always.

    Thank you, Jillian. Welcome! I've overlooked sage, too, but was casting about for a different fresh herb to try. Glad I did.

    Ciao, Brii! Thank you. Your lovely recipe is here and well represented in the round-up. : }

    Welcome, Maggie! Thank you! A giant sage plant is just begging to be picked.

    Hi, Lydia. Restauranteurs should know better than to mess with success.

    Thank you, Valentina. Yes, polenta needs copious amounts of water (and some fat) to make it tender; otherwise, you wind up with mortar. : P

    Wiffy - Thanks. I know how hard it is to make the time to join in all the events that we'd like to.

    Thank you, Lisa. That's very nice of you.

    Kalyn - Thanks! It is a nice departure from the typical roast and sausage use.

    Hi, Angela! Thank you! It's rich enough to keep you going all afternoon.

    Nice to see you here, Peabody! Thank you! Yes, go salvage that salvia. : }

    Brii - Be my guest. Hope Peabody stops back to read your tips.

    Courtney - The power of suggestion! : D

    Welcome, Kelly! Thank you! Glad you came by.

    Thank you, Meryl. Welcome! I do hope you will enjoy it. It only looks complicated to prepare.

  27. Susan, lovie ~ Simple, elegant and exquisite, your polenta tart is a celebration of autumnal delights. I can tolerate some mushrooms now and am tempted to turn my hand at this recipe. Actually, it is the sage that concerns me most since it can have a terribly astringent aftertaste. I will use it judiciously. A beauty to behold, and I am sure a greater beauty to taste.

  28. Wow!!This Fried Polenta Tart is Scrumptious.this polenta tart recipe spicy with sage. it will be different test with add Mushroom and Mascarpone Sauce.So a threesome combination is likely to be tasty and healthy alike. Thank you for shearing your post.