Thursday, April 8, 2010

Polenta Vegetable Lasagna

Lasagna is one of my favorite foods, I have fond memories of it’s cheesy goodness.  However, I find it necessary for my health to avoid all that cholesterol laden cheese and refined wheat pasta.  But, why be so nostalgic?  Why not come up with a tasty alternative?  Which is exactly what I did.  This polenta lasagna is really good!!
You need to start off by making some polenta.  I know you can but the stuff ready made, and if you’re a working person, that might be a faster alternative.  I, however, have more time than money so I made my own.  It’s not hard, but it does take about 30 minutes of constant attention.  Whatever you do, I encourage you to buy organic.   Most all corn, if it’s not organic, is genetically modified and there is research that indicates that genetically modified corn may interfere with our blood chemistry...why take the chance.
You can make polenta the day before if you want, it needs to chill anyway.  Once you make the polenta, you spread it on some cookie sheets in two 8”x8” squares.

Once it’s chilled and firmed up you’re going cut it into four pieces and spread a tablespoon of tomato sauce on it and then sprinkle it with your cheese of choice.  Non dairy, goat feta, low fat mozzarella, whatever you like, or you can leave off the cheese altogether.

Once you have this ready, you can make the sauce.  I happen to have some very tasty marinara sauce in my freezer that I made from my homegrown tomatoes last fall.  If you don’t want to make your own, feel free to use your favorite “jar” brand.
Because your homemade or purchased marinara sauce already has onions, herbs and spices, all you need are the veggies.  I used two zucchinis, two yellow squash and about a dozen mushrooms.  I also added a cup of baby spinach leaves at the end (they didn’t make it into the photo)

Cut the veggies into bite size pieces and saute in a little olive oil, starting with the mushrooms.

After about 5 minutes, add a couple cups of your favorite pasta sauce and simmer for 15 minutes more.
Turn off the heat and stir in the spinach.  Then, pop those polenta squares into your pre-heated broiler for 5-10 minutes until the cheese starts to brown and the polenta starts to crisp on the edges.  I was in such a hurry to try this that I don’t think I left the polenta in the broiler long patient.
When the polenta is done, put one square on a plate and cover it with some vegetable sauce and then top it with another square of broiled polenta.  You can add a spoonful of vegetables to the top for decoration.  I think I’m going to make this again was that good!
Polenta Vegetable Lasagna
Makes 4 servings - Use organic ingredients whenever possible
For the Polenta:
2 cups broth (I use Imagine Un-chicken Broth)
3 cups water
1 cup coarse cornmeal (polenta)
1 teaspoon salt (or less depending on the sodium content of your broth)
Optional: Cheese (dairy or non dairy)
Bring water and broth to a boil in a heavy pot.
Slowly add the cornmeal to the boiling water in a very thin stream, stirring with a whisk.
Turn down the heat to low and let the cornmeal simmer gently.
Continue stirring with a long handled wooden spoon for about 25 minutes or until the spoon can stand upright in the polenta.
Stir in the salt.
Spread the polenta on two cookie sheets, making two 8”x8” squares.
Chill the polenta for at least an hour, but longer is better.
Cut each 8” square into four 4” squares.
Top each square with 1 tablespoon of pasta sauce and cheese, if desired.
For the Vegetable Sauce:
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
12 mushrooms
2 small zucchini
2 small yellow squash
2 1/2 cups pasta sauce (homemade or store bought) divided.
1 cup spinach, packed
Wash, trim and quarter the mushrooms.
Wash and cut the squash into bite size pieces.
Heat the olive oil in a pan.
Add the mushrooms, stir and saute for 3-4 minutes.
All the squash to the pan, stir and saute for 5 minutes.
Add the pasta sauce and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
When the squash is tender, turn off the heat and stir in the spinach.
To Assemble:
Broil the polenta on high for 5 or more minutes until cheese is brown and polenta is crispy on the edges.
Put one polenta square on a plate and top it with some vegetable/tomato sauce.
Put another polenta square on top of the sauce and top that with a tablespoon of vegetables.
Serve immediately.

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