Baked Layered Polenta

Last week I took a trip to Trader Joe's to pick up some gluten-free products. I love their gluten-free rice pasta and their gluten free banana waffles which are inexpensive, and great for a quick breakfast. Among other things, I found a package of organic cooked polenta with a gluten-free label so I brought it home to check it out. Here is a link to a video review of the polenta. I have also used San Gennaro Foods organic polenta in the past. I decided rather than saute it like I normally would, I would bake it with Italian style vegetables. The result was reminiscent of a baked pasta dish, but with a more rich complex texture. Years ago I worked at an Italian restaurant, they sometimes served a very good polenta and sage appetizer. So I used this pair as a starting point. The sage got me thinking about other savory herbs, so I added fennel seeds, rosemary and oregano to give this dish the deep rich flavors I like so much in Italian casseroles and stews. I added some dried red pepper flakes which made this too spicy for the kids and my sister in-law (sorry!). If you (or someone your serving) is sensitive to spicy foods I suggest you leave out the pepper flakes. I will definitely make this one again!

Baked Layered Polenta
Serves 3-4

@12 oz pre-cooked Polenta (Trader Joe's comes in a 16oz tube)

1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

1/3 of a medium sized eggplant

1 cup of frozen spinach- thawed or two cups fresh spinach
2 ripe plum tomatoes, or 1 large ripe tomato
4 cloves garlic - minced

1/2 onion - chopped fine

3 Tbsp olive oil

1 large egg

1/4 cup milk

1 Tbsp dried sage

1/4 tsp fennel seed

1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried basil

1 Tsp dried red pepper flakes (optional)

sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

6" x 9" casserole dish

Aluminum foil


Cut the eggplant into 1/2 inch thick round slices. Sprinkle with salt, place in a colander and let sit for 40 minutes (to draw out moisture and bitterness)

Heat half of the olive oil in a pan to medium heat.
Add the onion to the pan, saute for a minute until soft.
Add the garlic, sage, fennel seed, rosemary, oregano, basil, salt and pepper and the dried red pepper flakes(optional). Mix all together.
Add the spinach to the pan, cook for 2 or three minutes. Remove the mixture from the pan, set aside.
In the same pan, add the other half of the olive oil, heat to medium and saute the eggplant slices, for 2-3 minutes on each side. Set aside.
Cut the tomatoes in to thin slices, set aside.

Cut the polenta tube into 1/2 inch round slices, set aside.
Pre-heat the oven to 350ยบ
Place a layer of the polenta slices(using half) covering the bottom of a 6" x 9" casserole dish.
Take half of the spinach mixture and spread it evenly over the polenta layer.
Using half of the sliced tomatoes, lay down a layer over the spinach.(see picture)
Lay down a layer of the sauteed eggplant on top of the tomatoes.
Lay down a layer of Mozzarella cheese (using half) over top of the eggplant.
Using the remaining polenta, place another layer on top of the cheese.
Spread the remaining spinach mixture in a layer over the polenta.
Beat the egg in a bowl with 1/4 cup of milk, spread the mixture evenly over the top layer. Lay down an even layer of the remaining Mozzarella cheese.
Place a layer of the remaining sliced tomatoes over top of the cheese.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 35 minutes, remove the foil and bake for 10 more minutes (45 minutes total).
Let cool 10 minutes before serving, enjoy!


1 comment:

Jeena said...

Hi Jeff, I have added your link to my food blogger links also. :-)

This recipe looks wonderful, such healthy ingredients too! Polenta is delicious I bet this was really tasty.

I would keep the chilli flakes on mine. :-)