Cranberried Forbidden Rice with Mushroomed Polenta

We are right at the beautiful point between summer and fall here in Michigan. The leaves are turning into their brilliant reds, oranges and yellows, and while some days have cool fog hanging low in the trees, others – like today! – call for water sprinkler fun. It’s the most perfect time of year.

Inspired by this season, we had a dinner today combining summery fresh sprouts and fall’s cranberries and mushrooms. Ilian loved to snack on the ingredients while helping, just like mommy!

There’s four parts to this dish: A deep reddish-black rice called Forbidden Rice which I prepared with tart dried cranberries for this meal; bright yellow polenta with a pinch of perfume-rich tarragon; earthy mushrooms almost overloaded with thyme to remind us of our forest hikes; and all of this gets topped with a summer-meadow-green peppery sprout mix to bring together the flavors.

It’s healthy, balanced, and looks good enough for company. Perfect dinner for a perfect day.

Cranberried Forbidden Rice with Mushroomed Polenta

  • Servings: dinner for a family of 3
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  • 1 cup Forbidden Rice (black rice, not wild rice!)
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pinch of tarragon
  • 1 lb mushrooms (baby bella, white button, or a mix)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 TBsp dried thyme
  • 1 cup fresh sprouts, preferrably a mix including arugula and radish
  • water


  1. Combine the forbidden rice and 1 1/2 cups water in a pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Turn off heat, add cranberries and let sit for at least 10 minutes.
  2. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil, whisk in polenta with 1/2 tsp salt and a pinch of tarragon. Reduce heat to low. Whisk very frequently for the first 5 minutes, whisk occasionally for the next 5 minutes. (So you are cooking the polenta for a total of 10 minutes.) Pour into an oiled 8×8 or 9×9 baking dish, bake at 350F for 10 minutes. Let cool.
  3. Slice mushrooms. Heat oil at medium high in a pan. Lower heat to medium-low, add mushrooms with 1 tsp salt and 1 TBsp dried thyme, cook for 15 minutes, stir occasionally.
  4. Arrange a square of polenta and rice on plate, top polenta with mushrooms, top all with fresh sprouts.

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