Do you remember those crab cakes I made for my friends a couple weeks ago? Those were just our first course. Um…maybe second since there was my famous guacamole and squeaky cheese to munch on as we all got to know each other.
I am not sure what was the favorite among the group? The crab cakes, guacamole or my Polenta Lasagna. I have to admit, the main course did take some effort and time to prepare, but in my opinion, it’s so worth it! In fact, my friend Lisa said it was amazing! She said, “wow I can tell you put a ton of work into this dish Karen, but it’s so good! THANK YOU so much!”
I promise you won’t miss the noodles in this crowd pleasing vegetarian dish! Did I mention it is gluten free? However, definitely not dairy free, but oh so delicious. Since Polenta can be a bit heavy, I lighten up the lasagna with a fluffy spinach filling and a very bold pepper-tomato sauce. Trust me, you won’t miss the meat!
Just like the traditional lasagna with the classic Bolognese sauce, it does take a bit of work….so my friend Lisa is right, this recipe does involve a few steps, and dental floss.
Yes that is right. After making the polenta, you pour it into a prepared 9×13 pan. Let it set in a cool place for a couple hours or more to set up, and than you invert the pan. You’ll cut the polenta in half and than take dental floss to slice each half. You’ll end up with four rectangles for your lasagna.
Trust me, it sounds much more complicated than it really is! To be honest, this dish is fun to make and even more impressive to serve to your guests. Your friends will be WOWED.
Lets get to work my friends.
POLENTA LASAGNA WITH ROASTED PEPPERS AND TOMATOES
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped fine
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 7 to 8 cups of chicken stock
- 2 cups of polenta
- 1/2 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- 1 large container of fresh spinach sautéd in 1 tablespoon oil
- Two 15-ounce containers of ricotta cheese
- salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- 4 cups Roasted Pepper-Tomato Sauce
- 2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
- Lightly coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with oil. In a large saucepan, warm the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes over medium heat, or until softened. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute more, making sure it does not brown. Add the salt and stock and bring to a rolling boil over medium heat.
- Add this mixture to your crockpot. In a thin stream, very slowly add the polenta, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Set crock pot setting on high for one hour. Stir and reduce heat to low and cook for about 6 more hours. Stir in about 4 tablespoons of the parmesan cheese and 2 tablespoons of butter. (alternately make this in an Instant Pot)
- Pour the polenta into the prepared baking dish, smoothing the top with rubber spatula if necessary. Let the polenta rest for at least 2 hours to set.
- In a separate pan, sauté the spinach in about 1 tablespoon of oil till wilted briefly. In a small bowl, mix the spinach with the ricotta cheese. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
- Preheat the oven to 375° F. Invert the polenta onto cutting surface. Set the dish aside to use again. Cut the polenta rectangle in half crosswise to make 2 rectangles each measuring 9 by 6 1/2 inches. (This will make it easier to transfer the polenta back into the baking dish later on). Cut a 2-foot long piece of dental floss and hold it taut between your hands. Working with 1 piece of polenta at a time, place the floss against the end farthest from you and pull the floss toward you, through the center of the polenta piece, slicing it in half to give you a top and bottom layer. (or use a serrated knife to slice through the polenta.) Repeat with second rectangle.
- Spoon 1 cup of the Roasted Pepper Tomato Sauce evenly on the bottom of the same baking dish. Put 2 of the polenta pieces in the dish to cover the bottom. Spoon half the ricotta mixture over the polenta, using the back of a spoon to spread it out, than sprinkle with 1 cup of the mozzarella and 2 tablespoons of the parmesan cheese. Spoon 2 cups of the sauce over the cheese.
- Top with the remaining polenta pieces, covering the sauce completely. Spoon the remaining spinach-ricotta mixture evenly over the polenta. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup mozzarella over the top. Dot with the remaining 1 cup sauce, leaving small gaps between the sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan.
- Put the lasagna dish on a baking sheet to catch any drips. bake, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes. To serve, cut into serving portions and use a spoon or spatula to scoop them out onto individual dishes.