Baked Polenta with Mushroom and Kale

Recipe 10 minPreparation Time 60 minCooking Time
Baked Polenta with Mushroom and Kale

Baked Polenta with Mushroom and Kale

10 minPreparation Time 60 min Cooking Time

About this Recipe

Baked polenta is a fantastic hands-off meal. With a short active time from beginning to end, this dish can come together easily while you’re multitasking. Though traditional polenta recipes rely heavily on butter and cheese, this version uses vegetable stock and olive oil to create a lush polenta. Kale and mushrooms make this a hearty and healthy dish, perfect for cold evenings or when you need just a little extra warmth.

Level Up: Make your own vegetable stock.  

The Benefits

Kale and polenta are both rich in magnesium, a mineral beneficial for sleep. Magnesium can calm the nervous system and help lower the stress hormone cortisol. Polenta made from organic corn is a food with a medium glycemic index, so it helps the body release more insulin, which gets converted to sleep-promoting melatonin. 


Serves 4 to 6
  • 3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for coating the dish
  • 4 cups plus ¼ cup vegetable stock or water, divided
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (165 g) polenta or coarse-grind cornmeal
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 8 oz (227 g) cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 small thyme sprigs, leaves removed and roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch lacinato kale (about 1 lb/450 g), stems removed and leaves chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar


  1. Step 1
    Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C and grease a 2-quart (1-liter) baking dish with oil.
  2. Step 2
    In a large Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat, bring 4 cups of the stock to a boil. Stir in 1/2 tsp of the salt and 2 Tbsp of the oil. Slowly pour in the polenta in a steady stream, stirring constantly. Continue to stir until the polenta begins to thicken and becomes harder to stir, about 5 minutes.
  3. Step 3
    Immediately transfer the polenta to the baking dish and spread the top evenly with a spatula. Bake for 1 hour until the top just starts to brown and the polenta is bubbling.
  4. Step 4
    About 30 minutes before the polenta is done baking, heat the remaining 1 Tbsp of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  5. Step 5
    Turn the heat to medium-high. Add the mushrooms and thyme and stir to coat. Spread the mushrooms in an even layer. Cook the mushrooms, undisturbed, until the bottoms are browning, about 6 minutes. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are mostly browned all over, 5 to 7 minutes more.
  6. Step 6
    Add the kale and remaining ½ teaspoon of salt. Using tongs, toss the kale and mushrooms until combined well. Add the remaining ¼ cup of stock and cook, tossing occasionally, until the kale is tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add the vinegar and toss to combine.
  7. Step 7
    Divide the polenta among plates and top with the kale and mushrooms before serving. Store the kale and mushrooms in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Store the polenta, covered, in the refrigerator overnight. To reheat, slice the polenta and heat in a pan with a touch of olive oil.

Substitutions: King trumpet or oyster mushrooms (or any type of mushroom) would also work in this recipe. 

About the author

Lesley Enston

Lesley Enston

Lesley Enston is a recipe developer, food writer and tester of Trinidadian descent living in Brooklyn, New York. Specializing in Caribbean cuisine, her work has been featured in Bon Appetit, Food52 and The New York Times. Her forthcoming book, Belly Full, published by Ten Speed Press, will be out September 2024. 

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