Polenta with Mushrooms and Thyme (Gluten-Free)


This polenta dish is served warm with mushrooms, fresh herbs and Parmesan cheese. It’s naturally gluten-free and can be made vegan-friendly.
It makes a great side dish, light meal or starter.

This quantity will serve three or four.


  • 1 cup medium maize meal
  • 4 cups water
  • 250g sliced/quartered mushrooms
  • Tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 4 or 5 sprigs of thyme
  • 4 tbsp. chopped parsley
  • 50g grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp. butter or vegetable oil
  • Black pepper to season


Method for Cooking Polenta

  1. Using four times the volume of water to maize meal, bring the water to a boil in a saucepan.
  2. Pour the meal in a steady stream into the water as you whisk vigorously with a metal whisk.
    The aim is to avoid lumps forming.
  3. Once all the meal has been absorbed, use a long-handled wooden spoon to stir continuously over a medium heat.
    The consistency will become quite thick and needs constant stirring to prevent it from catching on the base of the pan.
  4. When the mixture has been cooked through (it shouldn’t feel grainy) it will have a smooth creamy texture.
  5. A generous knob of butter or some grated parmesan cheese can be added just before serving.
  6. If the polenta is to be cooled and sliced it should be spread on a shallow tray or dish which has been lined with non-stick baking paper.
    Leave the polenta to set and cool in the fridge for at least 2 hours or even overnight.Note: There are different opinions on the subject of cooking polenta and there are different grades of the maize meal which may complicate things.

    I have found the medium grade to be most suitable and if the correct ratio of water to meal is used it isn’t a difficult process.

    Many packets suggest a water ratio of 3:1 but it generally needs 4:1.
    The meal has to cook thoroughly over a medium heat for at least 20 minutes.

Method for Main Dish

  1. First, prepare the mushrooms by sautéing them in batches over a medium/high heat in the butter or oil.
  2. Towards the end of cooking add the thyme leaves and balsamic vinegar and stir around for another minute or so. Set aside while the polenta is being made.
  3. Prepare the polenta as instructed above and add the cheese and herbs at the end. (Omit cheese if required).
  4. Pour the polenta onto a serving plate and top with the mushrooms.
  5. Season with several twists of ground black pepper.

This polenta with mushrooms and thyme dish is incredibly easy to make and is a very comforting dish. It’s also very versatile. You can swap out the mushrooms for different kinds, such as shiitake, button or portobello.
You can also adjust the herbs depending on your preference. Try rosemary or chives next time.
The polenta base really gives you a blank canvas to work with a multitude of flavours.

This dish is topped with Parmesan cheese, but rest assured vegans. We stock some great cheese alternatives in-store, so pop in and check out our fridge section 🙂

If you’re unsure what polenta actually is, let me explain.

Polenta is a dish made from maize or cornmeal (flour).
You cook the flour in water until it forms into a thick porridge consistency. Ta-da! This is polenta. Then serve it hot or allow to cool.

A bonus point for Polenta is that it’s naturally gluten-free. This is wonderful news for coeliacs or for those wishing to remove or reduce gluten intake in their diets.
It’s also an interesting way to add more variety to your weekly meals. If you’re keen to try out an alternative to simply pasta and rice-based meals, give this a go.
Polenta is a useful alternative to potatoes or pasta, but still gives you the option of adding the same toppings. It works with cheese, pesto, tomato, veggies, fish etc. Plus, there are options to use it as a pizza base or cut into squares or rectangles to fry or grill.
You can really get quite experimental in the kitchen!

If you’ve never cooked Polenta before, check out our previous blog on Polenta Chips. Here we explain how to cook it to perfection.

polenta with mushrooms

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