Kitchen Creations

Monday, March 12, 2012

Something New & Tasty

I finished reading Michael Pollan's, "In Defense Of Food" recently.   My husband read it years ago and it reinforced his decision to be "mostly meatless".  Reading it myself really solidified the desire to push meat to the side.  It features in our meals 1-2 times a week, I wanted to shoot for less this week and still have some fun, tasty dishes that would satisfy.  Several weeks ago I came across a recipe for "Polenta Pesto Lasagna" on  It looked terrific and I loved the idea of trying something different.  I'd never cooked with polenta before, but our family adores lasagna and pesto, so it seemed like a great recipe to try.  One problem, when I went to the grocery store I couldn't find the pre-packaged polenta.  I decided to try my hand at making my own.  Armed with the advice, "Don't leave, slow and steady is the way to go." from my friend Eva and "keep stirring" from my sister Karen, I set out on my first polenta adventure.  Amazingly, it wasn't hard and the results were very gratifying!!  The added bonus is that my recipe had fresh polenta in it and none of the preservatives!  I think Mr. Pollan would be proud.  I know I was! 

The recipe below can be super simple and quick with pre-made polenta and bottled pesto, or you can try out my recipes for polenta and pesto, either way, it should be a terrifically tasty meal!

Pesto Polenta Lasagna 
Polenta -
6 cups water
2 tsp. salt
1 3/4 cups corn meal
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter

Pesto -
20 leaves fresh basil
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (toasted almonds work nicely too)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup water

Favorite tomato/marinara sauce
Favorite cheese, mozzarella or cheddar taste great

Polenta - buy pre-made or follow the steps below
1.)  Bring 6 cups of water to boil.
2.)  Add 2 tsp. salt to water
3.)  Gradually add the cornmeal, whisking as you add
4.)  Stir cornmeal mixture continuously over med-high heat for about 15 minutes while mixture thickens.

5.)  Remove from heat and stir in 3 Tbsp. butter

6.)  Transfer polenta to a loaf pan or deep dish and let set up.  It will be easier to make slices for the lasagna this way. 

Pesto - buy pre-made or follow the steps below
1.)  Combine basil, garlic, Parmesan, toasted pine nuts, olive oil and water in a food processor and blend until a smooth sauce forms.

Lasagna -
1.)  Slice polenta to desired thickness

2.)  In a medium baking dish (original recipe called for an 11X9X2 - I just used the closest to that I had) spread 1 layer of polenta slices across the bottom of the pan.
3.)  On top of the polenta slices spread a thin layer of pesto.
4.)  On top of the pesto spread a layer of marinara/tomato sauce.
5.)  On top of the marinara/tomato sauce sprinkle desired amount of cheese. (The polenta is creamy so there is no need for a ton of cheese).
6.)  Repeat layers 1-2 times, depending on how much polenta and pesto you have left.  Reserve a bit of cheese.

7.)  Bake for 25 minutes at 375 degrees.
8.)  Turn oven to broil and sprinkle the top layer of polenta with the remaining cheese and pine nuts.  Broil until the pine nuts are toasted.

Click here for printable recipe

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