fall carrots

Toasted Polenta with Wild Mushroom Sauté | Simple Green Salad | Carrot Cake

Fresh shiitake mushrooms and bunches of carrots in your CSA bag? There’s a dinner for that. Sauté those mushrooms in some butter with a bit of garlic and fresh parsley (add that at the end), spoon over some toasted polenta, pair up with a green salad, and you’ll have plenty of room in your tummy for carrot cake made from scratch. Or from a mix. Or store-bought. These are your options, today and always. But get the lettuce from the farm; fresh lettuce is in top form right now, and it’s worth the extra dollar or two.

Love to Cook: So, you’ll really have to love to cook to make this entire dinner from scratch. But it will be worth it, if you have the time and inclination.The cake will take the most time and the polenta next, as both require chilling. The best carrot cake recipe I’ve ever made comes from the Flour cookbook; the recipe is shared here on Oh Crumb!, with full credits and acknowledgements. Here’s a polenta recipe that’s pretty straightforward. While the cake and polenta chill,  prep the salad – simple lemon juice, olive oil and salt dressing would be best. When the polenta is ready for toasting (or pan frying, or grilling), make the mushrooms using this simple recipe from NYT Cooking.

Weeknight Reality: If there is a Fresh Market near you, try their store-branded carrot cake mix, which is quicker than making from scratch and really pretty good. There are polenta mixes that cook quickly but will still have to firm up in the refrigerator for you to toast/grill/pan-fry. Another option would be slice and bake polenta, available in most groceries in the fresh produce section. The mushroom recipe here is the same as above – it’s quick, easy and delicious. Here’s a simple lemon vinaigrette recipe for your salad.

Need a Miracle: Slice-and-bake polenta and bakery cake are going to be your options here. Dress them up by making the mushrooms (really, it just takes about 15 minutes) and making a salad with fresh, local lettuce, even if you use prepared dressing.

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