p is for polenta - lasagna, pizza crust, burger "base"

22 May 2012

Posted by karen
karen's picture

I haven't made lasagna for ages (probably years) - and not because it calls for a lengthy preparation time, but I've been reducing my refined grain consumption (i.e. pasta).

Then I came across the following recipe using polenta; both my husband and I loved it. Holds together very well, is also delicious the next day - even cold as a take along lunch. You don't have to make your own polenta but it's quite quick and simple - I didn't have any of the packaged kind on hand and I also wanted to make sure the corn was organic.

Easy Polenta

Can be served with fish, chicken or a rich tomato/veggie sauce. 
3 cups water 
1 tsp. sea salt
1 Tbsp. olive oil or coconut oil or butter
1 cup polenta (ground cornmeal) – 2/3 cup fine grind, 1/3 cup med-coarse grind 
(organic cornmeal is recommended, as most corn grown is genetically modified) 
Preheat oven to 350F.
In 3-qt. pot, bring 3 cups water to a boil. Add salt and oil. Slowly add polenta, stirring continuously with a whisk. Lower heat and continue to stir for 10-15 minutes with a wooden spoon. If desired, stir in additional options for the last 5 minutes of cooking time.
optional additions:
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2-3 Tbsp. sun-dried tomatoes in oil (swab with paper towel before chopping)
Spread into a greased 8 or 9-inch square baking pan. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes (depending on pan size) or until tester comes out clean. Let cool 5-10  mins. before serving
Other ways to use this polenta recipe:
- a double batch can be levelled out in a greased 9x13 pan to be used as  gluten-free pizza crust or as the bottom "bun" for burgers. For pizza, simply top the cooked polenta with pizza sauce, your favourite sauteed veggies and some cheese (opt). Cook at 375 for about 20 minutes, or until everything is heated through. For open-faced burgers, cut polenta into squares and use as the base for burger and choice of toppings. If polenta is thicker than what you like for these dishes, spread in a larger pan and adjust cooking times.
(original recipe credits to www.WholeLifeNutrition.net)

Polenta Lasagna with Portabellas and Greens

1 18-oz package prepared polenta or homemade
1/2 large onion, chopped
3 medium-sized portabella mushrooms, cut into 1/4-inch pieces (about 2 cups, chopped)
4 cloves garlic, minced or diced
8 cups washed, bite-sized pieced spinach, kale or other greens
1-2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. herbamare
fresh-ground pepper
"Cheese" sauce:
1/2 cup extra-firm silken tofu (soft worked fine for me too)
1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk (or milk of choice)
1/2 cup vegetable broth
2 Tbsp. tahini (sesame paste) 
1 tsp. onion powder
1 1/2 - 2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp. salt (optional)
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. tapioca starch (or corn starch)
1 1/4 cups marinara sauce (homemade or spaghetti sauce in a jar works fine)
1/4-1/3 cup pitted and sliced olives - green, kalamata, etc.
parmesan cheese (optional)
Put cheese sauce ingredients into blender or food processor and puree until completely smooth. Set aside.
Saute onions and portabellas in a non-stick skillet until mushrooms start to release their juices. Add the garlic and saute on low heat for another minute. Add the greens, basil and 1/4 cup water. Saute until the greens are wilted and tender and the water has evaporated. Add the cheese sauce and cook, stirring, until thickened. Check seasoning and add salt and pepper or herbs if needed.
Remove from heat.
Preheat oven to 375F.
Spray bottom and sides of 8x8 or 9x9-inch baking dish with non-stick spray.(If using homemade polenta from recipe above, "build" the lasagna in the same size dish.)
If using purchased polenta, cut into 1/4-inch slices. Line the bottom of the baking dish with half of the slices, overlapping slightly if possible. (If using polenta recipe above, remove from pan and carefully slice the whole thing through the middle, and put the bottom layer back into the pan.)
Spread 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce over the polenta, then spread on the greens mixture on top of that. 
Sprinkle the chopped olives over the greens and top with the remaining polenta.
Spread the remaining marinara sauce over the top and sprinkle with grated parmesan, if using.
Bake 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool 5- 10 minutes before serving.
(Note: this is gluten-free, but if preparing this dish for guests I recommend confirming ahead of time regarding corn allergies.)


Nina's picture

This looks delicious. I was just pondering how to make a polenta 'pizza' for my family as my daughter just had a blood test showing that she has celiac disease. My mother has had celiac for 17 years, and probably many more before that, so it will not be overwhelming for us. While waiting for a final confirmation after more tests, we have lightened our wheat load, and since homemade pizza has been a favorite around here I know I'll need a good replacement. I can't wait to try it, both the lasagna and the pizza. Thank you!

karen's picture

I wish you a smooth transition in food preparation for your daughter. This recipe really is tasty - my go-to even though we  can tolerate wheat products. Thanks so much for stopping by.

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Renee's picture

That recipe looks lovely Karen, I'm going to try it. What is herbamare? I'm assuming it is a herb blend.

karen's picture

Herbamare is manufactured by http://www.avogel.ca - a blend of "organically grown plants combined with sea salt and steeped for several months before being vacuum-dehydrated." I love it - even take a small vial with me camping, to substitute for fresh herbs! Made a recipe of the polenta this afternoon( to serve with a late supper of eggs and spinach) - I prefer it to toast. Enjoy!

Renee's picture

If I can't get herbamare, what would you recommend as a substitute?

karen's picture

The Spike brand is a one-seasoning-in-a bottle product.  They have several options and their list of ingredients is a lengthy one;  they also do not use MSG.  Some of them do contain soy, and they aren't organic. Another option if you have the time is to make your own mix using fine ground sea salt, ground pepper and your choice of crushed herbs. Herbamare is definitely my favourite go-to and is readily available in the health food stores I've sourced. Hope you're able to find it!

Gisele's picture

My mouth just watered reading this recipe and looking at the pictures.  A definite try for me in very near future!!!

karen's picture

I think you'll like it - the bonus was it didn't fall apart once I cut it and put it on the plate.

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