This vegan mushroom Marsala is made with tender baby portobello mushrooms and chickpeas simmered in a garlicky Marsala wine sauce and served over a bed of creamy polenta.
Here's one that's inspired by a dish I've never actually had. I waited tables at a small handful of places when I was in college, and at least two of those places served chicken Marsala.
Now, this is going to sound weird, but despite being a vegetarian, I was always really intrigued in the dish. Okay, maybe not the dish itself, but the sauce. It just smelled really good. All of those restaurants I worked at would hook me up with a meal if I worked a long shift, so I'm not sure why it never occurred to me to ask if I could have the sauce over pasta or something.
In any event, I never got to know what that delicious smelling sauce packed with shiny little mushroom bits tasted like.
It just recently occurred to me that I needed to find out, and to do that I'd need to create my own version. This is really a mish-mosh of eighty or so recipes that I perused in various cookbooks and online, since I've never actually had Marsala sauce before. I'm not sure how close I came to the mark, but it was so delicious that I'm going to just go ahead and proclaim success.
One thing I did differently from all the recipes I scoped out was to include garlic. Not a single one called for garlic! I distinctly recall the Marsala sauce of my younger years smelling garlicky. Maybe I just remember it that way because I really like garlic, but whatever. I went and included it, because garlic is good in just about anything, except maybe chocolate muffins (I checked). It was good here.
Since we're skipping the chicken part of chicken Marsala, I figured we ought to add a little something for protein, and chickpeas seemed perfect.
The Marsala dishes I served years ago usually came with a big scoop of pasta, but I love the combination of savory mushrooms and creamy polenta, so I went with that instead. I'm sure this would be good atop pasta, so feel free to sub pasta for polenta if you'd like, and be sure to let me know how it works out.
Chickpea & Baby Portobello Mushroom Marsala Over Creamy Polenta
For the Marsala Mushrooms and Chickpeas
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 8 oz. baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup dry Marsala wine
- 2 tbsp. lemon juice, or to taste
- 1 tsp. rubbed sage
- ½ tsp. black pepper
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
- 1-14 oz. can or 1 ¾ cups cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained
For the Creamy Polenta
- 1 cup polenta grits
- 2-3 cups water
- 1 cup unflavored soy or almond milk
- ½ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. pepper
Make the Marsala Mushrooms & Chickpeas
Coat the bottom of a large skillet with oil and place over medium heat. Add mushrooms in an even layer. Cook until mushrooms are lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add wine, lemon juice, sage, salt and pepper. Stir a few times and bring to a simmer. Lower heat and allow to simmer until sauce is thickened and syrupy, about 10 minutes.
Add chickpeas and stir a few times. Cook about 1 minute more, just until chickpeas are heated throughout. Remove from heat. Stir in parsley.
Make the Creamy Polenta
Place polenta grits, 2 cups of water, milk, salt and pepper into a medium saucepan and stir a few times. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Lower heat and allow to simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding a bit of extra water if mixture becomes too thick. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
Divide polenta among bowls and top with mushroom and chickpea Marsala.