We try to eat meatless meals a few times a week. Sometimes it's easy for me. Sometimes it's more difficult. I'm not really sure why that is. Some weeks the ideas are flowing and the menu plans itself. The next week I'm stuck on quesadillas and something with sausage.
This week I'm on roll and this dish is one my mother-in-law would love, which is great because she'll be here soon! She is a lover of all things goat cheese. If we are out, and I have to order for her some reason, I'm pretty golden if I get a dish with goat cheese. I can't blame her, it's good stuff!
I also thought that this would be a good dish for my girls for two reasons: 1) it's got marinara sauce, and 2) it's cheesy. Normally that's a winning combination for them! I keep putting new things like goat cheese, or old things prepared in a new way, like mushrooms and spinach, on their plates. Daniel Tiger chimes in a lot at our kitchen table. "You gotta try a new food cuz it might taste goo-ood!" And I feel like I read somewhere that it takes X amount of times for a child to try something new before they will actually eat it. So, I keep trying!
I started with polenta, since my girls both really like couscous. It's kinda couscous-y, but creamier, right? I love the Red Mill brand of grains, and this was really easy to make. I used bone broth along with water to prepare the polenta. Have a lid handy because this likes to spit! Once it was nice and creamy, about 15-20 minutes, I took it off the heat and added in some fontina cheese. Normally, polenta calls for parmesan, but I wanted to try something different.
I had purchased a bunch of mushrooms and was ready to toss them all in the pan when Julia Child's voice rang in my head. "Don't crowd the mushrooms!" Anyone else a Julie and Julia junkie? I LOVE that movie. Seriously, it made me check out Julia's Mastering the Art of French Cooking and read it, like a real book. It's a good read. Every time I cook with mushrooms I hear her joyous, warbly voice. So, the reason you don't crowd the mushrooms? They don't cook properly. Because mushrooms contain so much water, they need space for the moisture to evaporate and escape without causing the mushrooms to steam. This goes for any water-heavy food like zucchini or eggplant.
I sauteed the mushrooms in butter (butter is always better!) and then added in garlic and a spinach/kale mix. Once it was close to wilted, a glug of balsamic vinegar helped to create a nice glaze.
To add some protein, I made some fried eggs. Eggs are kind of a bone of contention with my oldest. She thinks she doesn't like them. My youngest will eat them any which way with gusto. But then, Stinkerbelle eats pretty much anything with gusto lately it seems. My little bird, not so much. I'm not sure when the pickiness started, but it's in high gear some days. I keep telling her that there are so many ways to make eggs, there is bound to be an egg she'll eat. Today we found it! Well, not all of it, but it turns out she loves a good fried yolk. The white she pushed around on her plate, but the "yeyo" part received an, "I love this mom! You need to make eggs like more often!" Right on!
The last "cooking" step is sauce. Now, I'm not quite so prepared that I've made my own marinara sauce and jarred it ahead of time, so I pulled out some Newman's Own. It was seriously good. Heat it separately on the stove and you're good to go! Assemble everything in your bowl and top with a dash of good black pepper and some splotches of goat cheese. Can I get a yum yum?
I never used to use plates with separate compartments. Sometimes though, especially when serving my girls something they've never tried before, I find it helps to keep the new-new stuff away from the I'll-eat-that stuff. That way I know they are going to eat something. And like I said, with gusto! Although the mushrooms didn't exactly stay in her mouth, at least they made it there ;)
What's your favorite goat cheese recipe or way to eat it? Share!