a vegetarian feast for the newlyweds.


roast mushroom ragu with soft polenta & marscarpone

There are times when I am just so glad I love to cook. Times when it gives me an opportunity to bring people together, times when it relaxes me, times when it allows me to indulge my creative side, times when it comforts me, times when it allows me to nurture and spoil my loved ones and times it helps get me out of a scrape.

A couple of months ago on a perfect Sydney Autumn afternoon I found myself dashing out the door of my apartment, all dolled up in my sparkly-est shortest dress running late for the wedding of my dear friends Sam & Felicity. As I closed the door I had that dreaded ‘I’ve forgotten something’ feeling. And after the usual quick mental check of wallet, keys, phone it dawned on me: the wedding gift. But alas said gift was decidedly unwrapped and cardless so I made a quick mental note to wing it.

After a touching & personal ceremony at Wylies Baths in Coogee with the beach and wedding cake island as a backdrop, we had a lovely evening of catching up with old mates. Now a very high proportion of my university mates are now in the married-with-children phase of life so it’s not often that we get a night out on the town with both mums and dads with their dancing shoes on, which makes nights like that all the more special.

So as we chatted and danced to dodgy 90s numbers, I realized that we needed to get together again a bit more frequently. And what better than a post honeymoon celebration dinner for the newly weds? A chance for me to deliver my wedding gift. and an excuse for a bit of baby sitter action and a good old get together. Throw in the Birthday of the lovely Fel, one of my favourite vegetarians and choc-a-holics and you’ve got a damn fine night on your hands…..all good things…

a vegetarian feast for fel & sam the newlyweds
italian salami* with shaved pear and parmesan
baked ricotta with grapes and thyme
olive bread
roast mushroom ragu with soft polenta & marscarpone
wilted Italian greens
chocolate mousse cake** with pomegranate & vanilla icecream

*a concession to the carnivores at the table.
** for the chocolate mousse cake follow the recipe HERE and serve with the seeds of one pomegranate tossed in 2T pomegranate molasses. I know Pomegranate & chocolate?? But trust me, match made in heaven.

roast mushroom ragu with soft polenta & marscarpone
serves 10-12

4kg mixed mushrooms (I used portabello, swiss brown, shiitake, shemeji, button and field)
150g butter
3T extra virgin olive oil
2 large brown onions, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled & finely sliced
½ bunch thyme
2C chicken or vegetable stock
40g dried porcini mushrooms
1C red wine
2T tomato paste
4T red wine vinegar or to taste
soft polenta see recipe HERE (you’ll need to increase the batch size) to serve
100g parmesan, grated
extra parmesan, to serve
250g marscarpone, to serve

Preheat oven to 200C. Wipe mushies clean and slice into chunks about 5mm thick. Place in 2 baking trays and dot with butter. Bake for 40mins to 1 hour or until mushrooms are cooked through.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan or flame proof casserole dish and cook onions over a low to medium heat, stirring occasionally until soft and slightly golden. Add garlic and thyme and cook for another few minutes. While the onions are cooking bring stock to the boil in a small saucepan and add porcini. Allow to stand and infuse.

When the onions are cooked add wine, tomato paste, soaked porcini and stock and bring to a simmer. When mushies are cooked add to the onion mixture along with any mushroom juices. Simmer stirring occasionally for about an hour or until sauce has reduced. Season with salt, pepper and vinegar.

Stir grated parmesan in with polenta and divide polenta between warmed pasta bowls. Top with mushroom ragu and a dollup of marscarpone and serve with extra parmesan passed separately.

wilted Italian greens
serves 10

I had planned on serving cavalo nero, the black tuscan cabbage with the polents, but unfortunately they were all out when I was at the greengrocers so I decided to brave trying a new type of green. Not sure what they were called exactly but they worked a treat and had a lovely fresh sharp slightly mustardy flavour. 

1 very large bunch miscellaneous greens
large knob butter
2 cloves garlic, peeled & finely sliced
juice ½ lemon

Wash greens thoroughly. Shake dry. Cut stems into 2cm thick slices and when you get to the leaves leave them a bit more chunky. Preheat a large saucepan then add butter and allow to melt over a high heat. Add garlic and thick stems and stir fry for 5mins or until the stems are starting to soften. Add leaves and allow to cook, stirring frequently until leaves are just wilted. Season with s&p.

Transfer to a serving plate and squeeze over lemon juice.

ps. If you’re interested in reading about the engagement celebration dinner I cooked for Fel & Sam click HERE.


  • This looks sooo yummy, my mouth is watering just looking at it! I just read how you cook your polenta too – what a great idea and one I shall apply at the next available polenta opportunity – when ever that may be. Top stuff Clance!

  • I feel like your “miscellaneous greens” might be of the mustard plant. You see the pickled variety in asian grocers. It would explain that mustard flavour you picked up.

  • Wow. My mouth is watering. Its funny, I was just thinking about what kind of feast I could make for our vegetarian friends. You have hit the nail on the head.

  • This is excellent! I’ve been looking for a recipe for something comforting seeing as it’s coming into the winter months. The polenta is just perfect!

  • As aforkfulofspaghetti says, we are very lucky newly-weds! Thanks again Clance for the delicious feast. And the chocolate cake was very much enjoyed for the next two nights as well! F xx

  • I just discovered your blog from A Forkful of Spaghetti’s – what gorgeous pictures! The mushroom ragu looks particularly delectable.

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