Mushroom & Marsala Casserole with Polenta Crust

This tastes amazingly beefy even though it’s meat-free.


  • Handful of dried porcini or mixed dried mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 1 pound portobello mushroom caps, gills scraped, sliced
  • 8 ounces mixed fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • Leaves from 2 or 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • Leaves from a few sprigs fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, grated or finely chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup Marsala wine or dry sherry
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup quick-cooking polenta
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 2 cups shredded smoked scamorza or smoked provolone cheese
  • Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


If you’re making this dish to serve on Cook Day, preheat the oven to 400°F. Otherwise, follow the make-ahead directions below.

In a small saucepan, combine the dried mushrooms with about 2 cups water. Bring to boil, then reduce the heat and simmer to reconstitute.

Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, heat the EVOO (4 turns of the pan) over medium-high heat. Add the portobello and fresh mushrooms and cook until darkened and tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Add the garlic, rosemary, thyme, carrot, and onion; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir 1 minute. Deglaze the pan with the Marsala. Add the soaked mushrooms and most of the soaking liquid leave behind the last few spoonfuls as there may be grit. Transfer the stew to a shallow 2-quart (10- or 12-inch) casserole.

In a large saucepan, bring the milk and 1 1/2 cups water to a simmer. Whisk in the polenta and keep whisking until it thickens, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat while still pourable and stir in the butter, Parm, and salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the polenta over the mushrooms. Top with the cheese and sprinkle with a little parsley. Cover with foil.

Make-ahead: Cool and refrigerate.

Night of: Return the casserole to room temp while you preheat the oven to 400°F.

Bake the casserole covered for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until golden and bubbling on top, 15 to 20 minutes.

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