With the exception of summer, when the heat is both reliable and often relentlessness, the weather in Texas can be so unpredictable, especially this time of year. One day, it's in the 70s and you're craving a grilled steak and rice pilaf and the next day, you can't imagine cooking anything but a pot roast because a cold front blew in overnight.

We often associate meaty dishes with cold weather cooking, but the Colorado-based food writer Marla Meridith has found plenty of ways to create umami and richness without meat. Her new book, "High Alpine Cuisine: Inspired Dishes from Extraordinary Mountain Escapes Around the World" (Page Street Publishing, $21.99), explores the kinds of dishes served on mountaintops in Europe and the U.S., and because it's as reliably cool at high altitudes as it is hot during a Texas summer, her book is a good one to turn to when our own weather turns chilly.

Take this dish. It's a ragout, a French stew that no one will fault you for thinking might also be a ragú, an Italian pasta sauce. You wouldn't normally eat a ragú on its own — think Bolognese on top of pasta — but a ragout you can eat by itself or on top of polenta, couscous or another starch. This one gets it richness from wild mushrooms, cream, garlic and capers, and it's served on a rich polenta made with Parmesan and lots of butter. It's a vegetarian main dish that's ideal for a winter dinner party or a weeknight meal, no matter your altitude.

Wild Mushroom Ragout with Creamy Parmesan Polenta

There is a very special time in the mountains each year near the end of the summer. It’s the annual mushroom harvest. This is when foragers hunt to find the most edible fungi. The haul can vary vastly as it all depends on mother nature’s plans. Some years unleash thousands of pounds of chanterelles and assorted varieties. Other years, finding a handful is a big deal. Walking through town you hear the quiet buzz about where the wild mushroom stashes are. This, after all, is top-secret information for those on the hunt. Wild ’shrooms are so important to folks in Telluride that we even have a summer festival dedicated to them.

— Marla Meridith

For the wild mushroom ragout:

1/4 cup olive oil

1 yellow onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound mixed wild mushrooms, cleaned and cut into bite-size pieces (varieties can include chanterelles, porcini, milkcaps, etc.)

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons capers

2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped

1/3 cup heavy cream

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped, plus more for serving

For the Parmesan polenta:

4 cups low-sodium vegetable stock

2 teaspoon minced garlic (about 2 cloves)

1 cup coarse yellow cornmeal

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving

1/4 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Salt and pepper to taste

To make the ragout, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a 12-inch heavy-bottomed or cast-iron skillet until it’s hot and shimmering. Add the onion and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes, until soft and fragrant. Mix in the mushrooms. Sauté the mushrooms about 5 to 7 minutes so they soften and their juices evaporate, stirring often. Remove from the heat, add the white wine and stir to combine. Return to the heat and cook for 3 minutes to let the wine evaporate. Mix in the butter, capers, broth and rosemary, and simmer for 20 minutes or until the sauce is reduced by half. Stir in the cream. Heat another minute or so. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat to add fresh garnishes.

To make the polenta, place the veggie stock in a large saucepan. Add the garlic and cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, bringing the stock to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, slowly pour in the cornmeal, whisking to make sure it doesn’t get lumpy. Using a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, continue to stir the polenta.

Scrape up any bits that start to collect on the bottom of the pan. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. The polenta will be thick and creamy when done. Remove from the heat and mix in the Parmesan, cream and butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve while hot. Place the mushroom ragout over the polenta. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and Parmesan cheese. Serves 4.

— From "High Alpine Cuisine: Inspired Dishes from Extraordinary Mountain Escapes Around the World" by Marla Meridith (Page Street Publishing, $21.99)