Looking for a vegetarian meal that's not another pasta casserole? Try Italian polenta for tonight's dinner! It's a quick fix that pairs with almost any vegetable, like these hearty roasted cauliflower and mushrooms. Add a poached egg and you've got a restaurant-ready meal that only costs pennies to make.
And you can prepare most of this dish ahead of time—yes, even the eggs! Roast the vegetables and poach the eggs up to 2 days before you want to dig in, then just make the polenta when you're ready.
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided + additional for serving, if desired
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper + additional for serving, if desired
- 1 pound shiitake mushrooms, caps cleaned and stems removed
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 quart (4 cups) whole milk or reduced-fat milk
- 3/4 cup polenta
- 3 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
- 4 large eggs
Roast the vegetables:Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.
Toss the cauliflower with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the black pepper. Roast for 10 minutes.
Toss the mushrooms with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the thyme leaves.
Roast both vegetables for 20 minutes more, stirring occasionally until the cauliflower is charred in spots and the mushrooms are golden brown and sizzling.
While the vegetables roast, make the polenta: Bring the milk and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt to a boil in a large (3-4 quart) saucepan over medium heat. Watch carefully as the milk may bubble over.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and slowly whisk in the polenta. Stir for 5 minutes, lowering the heat as needed as the polenta starts to thicken and sputter. Cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes more until the polenta is thick and creamy.
Turn off the heat and stir in the Parmesan. Keep covered while you poach the eggs.
Poach the eggs:Line a large plate or baking sheet with a paper towel. Fill a medium (2-quart) saucepan with water to a simmer and pour in the vinegar. Bring the water to a very low simmer.
Crack 1 egg into a heatproof ramekin. Stir the simmering water with the handle of a slotted spoon or spatula until it makes a whirlpool, then gently drop the egg into the center of the whirlpool.
Let the egg cook undisturbed for 30 seconds, then stir gently and cook for 2-3 minutes more, until the white is completely cooked and the yolk is beginning to firm up at the edges but still wobbly in the center.
Transfer the egg to the paper towel and repeat with the remaining eggs.
Divide the polenta between 4 plates or bowls, then top with the cauliflower and mushrooms. Place a poached egg on top of each and sprinkle with additional salt and pepper, if desired.
Make-Ahead: The vegetables can be roasted and the eggs can be poached up to 2 days before serving.
Refrigerate the roasted vegetables until needed and reheat on a rimmed baking sheet in a 350-degree oven or in a covered saucepan over medium-low heat.
Undercook the poached eggs by 1 minute and transfer to a large container of ice-cold water. Refrigerate until needed, then add to a pot of barely simmering water and warm for 1-2 minutes, then serve.