Mushroom and Tomato Thyme Stew with Polenta Gnocchi

Omit the cheese for a satisfying vegan solution!

When under time pressures, I like to load up on groceries that can provide me with kick and painless meals. It’s not so much the actual cooking time that is often a problem, but the prep time. After a long shift on my feet, the last thing I want to do is be on them for 20 minutes prepping the ingredients. My good old standby lately has been Portebello “Pizzas”Preheat oven to 425 F. Top an upside down Portobello mushroom with whatever you can find, but in my case, basil, cherry tomatoes and Boccaccini. Bake until mushroom is cooked and serve on greens with a vinaigrette. Prep time 1.5 minutes. Maybe 2 at best, that’s including making my own vinaigrette. Sit on my butt for 20 minutes and voila, dinner is ready. The perfect dinner for one. Since I’ve been kicking it solo this week with my husband gone, it’s been easy to make myself something simple and still feel quite satisfied. I loved it so much in fact that I loaded up on Portobellos. Maybe a few too many…

So it’s Sunday and I have some time. I have a bunch of mushrooms to use up before they go bad, and I want to make something that will be quick and ready to eat for the next few days. I wanted comfort food like Mushroom Stroganoff but without all the fat. Tomatoes are always a reliable friend when it comes to low fat healthy sauces, so this is how this stew came to be.

Since my Breakfast Polenta post, I have had a hard time getting polenta off the brain. Not only does it have the benefits of being gluten free but is kind of a shape shifter of sort. It can go from a creamy style mash all the what to a slice of “bread” with very little change in the recipe, which is pretty handy. I thought I’d try my hand at polenta gnocchi. Now all the recipes I found instructed pouring the polenta mixture (there are many recipes out there for polenta, just find one you like) out onto a working surface, allowing it to cool (30 minutes) and cutting out a shape with a small cookie cutter, layering the pieces in a pan, with sauce in between and baking for 10 minutes. But to me, that’s NOT gnocchi. It has to at least resemble the shape of gnocchi somewhat! Those tender little dough balls that almost melt in the mouth that take on the flavor of your chosen sauce so beautifully. So this is my attempt to be different and actually make polenta gnocchi that doesn’t look like cookie cut outs.  Regardless of the form of polenta you’d like to choose, creamy or gnocchi or what have you, this stew is fabulous and flavorful piled onto any starch or eaten like a thick soup. The results will be posted at the end of the post.

The only thing that grew well this summer. Go figure!

Mushroom and Tomato Thyme Stew

  • 1 large onion
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 8 cups rough chopped mushrooms
  • 2 large tomatoes (appx 3 cups)
  • 1/2 cup of tomato paste – homemade – (or 156 ml can of tomato paste )
  • 4 cups of stock (chicken, vegetable or mushroom)
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce or 1/2 tsp balsamic (for the vegetarian or vegan substitution)
  • grated Parmesan and fresh thyme as a garnish

Peel and slice the onion in wedges. Mash and peel the garlic cloves and roughly chop. In a large, heavy bottomed pot, cook the onions and garlic in 2 Tbsp of olive oil for 3 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Meanwhile clean and chop 8 cups of your choice of mushroom (I know it sounds like a lot but mushrooms cook down to nothing). Add the mushrooms to the pot and cook while you prepare the remaining ingredients.  Dice 2 large tomatoes and add all the remaining ingredients to the pot. Simmer for 1  hour and 15 minutes or until the sauce has thickened to a stew like consistency.


    • 1 cup coarse cornmeal
    • 3 cup water
    • 1 cup milk (or water)
    • 1/2 cup grated parmesan (optional)
    • 2 Tbsp butter or oil of choice
    • 1/2 tsp salt (more if you like)
    • fresh ground pepper

Bring liquids to a boil. Add the cornmeal in a steady stream while whisking continuously for 3 minutes, making sure there are no lumps. Simmer for 25 minutes, stirring every few minutes as to not scorch the bottom. Add the remaining ingredients and season with salt and pepper. Prepare a clean dry surface. Using parchment paper or a wood cutting board works great.

For gnocchi: Fill a glass with cold water. Using a small spoon, scoop a teaspoon of the polenta mixture and drop it on a clean dry surface, dipping the spoon in water in between scoops. These will set in 5 minutes. Scoop up with a spatula and top with the Mushroom  and Tomato Stew.

For creamy polenta: scoop some polenta right into individual bowls or plates and top with the stew.

Alternately for a rustic style polenta, pour the polenta onto a cutting board and spread out to 1 inch thick using a wet wooden spoon. Allow to set for 15 minutes. Cut into individual size pieces and serve with the stew.

The polenta gnocchi absolutely worked. It ends up being served at room temperature but with the simmering hot stew on top it’s delicious. The gnocchi process is a little fussy, so I wouldn’t bother if you’re going to serve more than 2 people. Instead, opt for making the creamy polenta or the rustic polenta.

I’m sharing this with Monday Mania, Mingle Monday, Mouth Watering Mondays, My Meatless Mondays, Meatless Mondays, Mangia Mondays, Fat Tuesdays, Tuesday Night Supper Club, Traditional Tuesdays, Tuesdays At The Table, A Little Birdie Told Me and Vegetarian/Vegan Meatless Mondays.



21 Responses to Mushroom and Tomato Thyme Stew with Polenta Gnocchi

  1. Elsa September 12, 2011 at 2:23 pm #

    This looks delicious and there are so many directions to go with it. Any stew could go over the polenta gnocchi, yum!! I’ve pinned this to try in the future.

    • France Morissette September 13, 2011 at 3:05 am #

      So true, I am daydreaming of all the yummy combos of stew we can pair this with and it’s endless. For those none vegetarians, we added spicy Italian sausage to the stew on day two and it was awesomeness.

  2. Lisa September 12, 2011 at 2:49 pm #

    This looks great! Unfortunately, my husband is allergic to mushrooms … would it work to just leave them out or is there a vegetarian alternative you could suggest?

    • France Morissette September 13, 2011 at 3:03 am #

      Hi Lisa, feel free to substitute eggplant or zucchini or both. You’ll want to cut the liquid to 3 cups of broth and cook for 1 hour or maybe a little less, especially if using the zucchini. Cut nice big chunks to keep them from over cooking while the sauce thickens and reduces. Good news is that zucchini is plentiful these days. I hope that’s helpful.

  3. Koko September 12, 2011 at 3:28 pm #

    Great recipe!! I looove mushrooms. I can just taste this with a salty parmesan cheese on top. Love the polenta gnocchi.

  4. Katherine Atkinson September 12, 2011 at 4:23 pm #

    This is great! :) I’m sure my readers would enjoy seeing this recipe. Would you mind sharing it this Wednesday on my Wildcrafting Wednesday blog carnival? It’s a blog carnival for posts on different ways to use herbs. This post would be perfect! :)

    ~ Kathy

  5. Kelly September 12, 2011 at 11:16 pm #

    I completely agree with minimizing preparation hassle – I’m all for maximizing bang for the buck :) This is a great stew France. Hearty, healthy and no doubt, delicious. I love your polenta – and the fresh herbs – nothing is better!

  6. laura @ glutton for nourishment September 13, 2011 at 12:35 am #

    polenta and gnocchi are two of my favorite things – i love the idea of making gnocchi out of polenta! delicious.

  7. Jeanette September 13, 2011 at 1:10 pm #

    Love the idea of polenta gnocchi and this mushroom stew on top sounds marvelous!

  8. Camilla September 13, 2011 at 4:00 pm #

    Visting from Rook No. 17’s A Little Birdie Told Me. This looks fantastic! Thanks for sharing.

  9. Jill September 13, 2011 at 4:46 pm #

    Thanks for linking your great post to FAT TUESDAY. Hope to see you next week!

  10. Joanne September 14, 2011 at 12:28 pm #

    In general, I adore polenta, but I’m pretty sure I’d adore it even more in gnocchi form! i’m super in love with this dish!

  11. Chaya September 18, 2011 at 7:18 pm #

    This is another wonderful dish that has the components to keep it healthy. Thanks for keeping it easy to make, as well. This is a featured recipe at my Meatless Mondays. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    Come on over and please do bring food.

  12. Jenn Erickson/Rook No. 17 September 19, 2011 at 7:21 pm #

    Oh, oh, oh…it’s fall perfection on a platter! Divine!

    I’m spotlighting your post on my Facebook page this week!


  13. France Morissette September 20, 2011 at 6:38 pm #

    Thanks so much Jenn! Glad you like it.

  14. christy September 26, 2011 at 9:39 pm #

    gorgeous! i love your portobello pizza recipe too! my hubs is heading out of town for a few weeks in october…although i will miss him, i am looking forward to a few veggie meals (my fave but he is a big meat eater)…i am putting this on my list of comfort meals…a bowl of this, warm fire, and romantic comedy on tv and i will be set :) thank you for sharing with tuesday night supper club.


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