Miso-braised Mushrooms and Eggplant on a Polenta Bed

From Gail Norton

2013 Mar/Apr

With the addition of miso, the mushrooms and eggplant take on a deep, nutty flavour. You can also serve the braised mushrooms and eggplant as an antipasto, spooned onto crostini.


  • 1 medium eggplant, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • 2 t. salt
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 2 + 2 T. butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb. domestic mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 lb. various exotic mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 t. grated fresh ginger
  • 3 T. mirin
  • 1 t. soy sauce
  • 1 T. dark miso paste
  • 1 T. white miso paste
  • 4 c. stock or water
  • 1 T. kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 c. coarse polenta
  • 2 T. butter
  • 1/2 c. grated parmesan, optional
  • salt and pepper to taste


Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the eggplant, lemon juice and salt to the water and boil the mixture, making sure there is enough water to cover the eggplant at all times, until the eggplant is just tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain it and set it aside.

In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil and 2 T. of butter over high heat and sauté the onions and garlic, stirring often, until the liquids from the onions are released, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat to low, put a lid on the pot and continue to cook the mixture for another 15 minutes. Add the mushrooms and ginger. Cook the mixture until the liquids from the mushrooms have been released, then cook until the liquids are reduced and the mushrooms are very soft.

Add the mirin, soy sauce, and miso pastes, turn the heat down and gently simmer the mixture for about 5 minutes. Add the cooked eggplant and continue simmering the mixture while you prepare the polenta. Make sure it doesn’t become too dry – add water or stock to ensure that the mixture remains moist.

Bring the stock or water to a boil in a large saucepan and add the kosher salt. Lower the heat to medium and slowly add the polenta, stirring it constantly. Continue to simmer it, stirring periodically, until it’s thick enough that the spoon can stand in the polenta, or until the grains have softened. Add 2 T. (30 mL) butter and cheese (if desired) and mix the polenta well. Season it with salt and pepper.

To serve, scoop a generous spoonful of the polenta on each plate topped with a portion of the miso-eggplant mixture. Serves 4 to 6.