Meatless Monday - Rustic Polenta Casserole

Rustic Polenta Casserole Fall is upon us.  I have been revolting as summer is my very favorite season.  Somehow, I am never ready to give up my summer.  This week,  the cooler mornings and earlier sunsets have reminded me...

Rustic Polenta Casserole
Rustic Polenta Casserole

Fall is upon us.  I have been revolting as summer is my very favorite season.  Somehow, I am never ready to give up my summer.  This week,  the cooler mornings and earlier sunsets have reminded me that I must begin to celebrate the season.   The harvest of fall is something I do enjoy as well as the turn to some new recipes that are hardier than the typical summer choices. This week the one and only Elizabeth Weaver of Elizabeth’s Edibles introduced me to a Polenta that I will re-create in a Rustic Polenta CasseroIe.  Elizabeth created this side for a Girl’s Night Out Dinner Party Menu. It follows my Meatless lifestyle and was a great idea for a hardy dish to serve with a big green Italian Salad.   I grew up in the Midwest, we did not know grits and polenta in our menu planning, we were potatoes and more potatoes and sometimes rice. I remember when I first moved to Georgia I asked to try a grit and the laughter that ensued!

Ground Polenta in a Bowl
Ground Polenta in a Bowl

This fall dish has humble beginnings with many rich flavors with no meat and very little fat.  As always, cook with the very best ingredients and remember that recipes are just guidelines.  In this case, I will add a few more Italian spices to Elizabeth’s original recipe and I would even suggest creating the polenta with vegetable stock over water.  I am all about layering flavors.

Rustic Polenta Casserole

– shared by Elizabeth Weaver of Elizabeth’s Edibles

Ingredients:

  • Cooking Spray
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onions (about 2 onions)
  • 3 cups, 12 ounces of coarsely chopped Cremini mushrooms
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1/3 cup red wine
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped (I might also add some Italian Blend, about 1 – 2 teaspoons or oregano)
  • 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes ( I have come to enjoy the fire roasted version best)
  • 1 cup polenta
  • ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese ( 2 ounces)
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 ½ teaspoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degree.  Spray a 9 x 13 x 2 casserole dish with cooking spray.
  2. Heat the oil in a medium saute pan set over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and cook for 8 minutes until they start to brown.  Add the mushrooms, garlic and ½ teaspoon of salt and cook stirring for 4 minutes.  Add the wine, tomato paste and herbs reduce the heat to medium and cook for 3 minutes.  Stir in the tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes until think.  Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
  3. Bring 4 cups of water or stock to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Stir in the polenta and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt.  Omit this salt if you are using processed stock.  Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring for five minutes, or until thick.  You do not want lumps in your polenta.
  4. Spread a third of the polenta into the prepared casserole dish.  Spread half of the tomato sauce over the polenta and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper.  Drop spoonfulls of half of the ricotta cheese onto the Parmesan cheese.  Repeat the layers, ending with the last third of the polenta.  Top with the remaining ¼ cup of the Parmesan cheese and dot with the butter.
  5. This Casserole can be frozen at this point before the baking.  Take this out of the freezer 24 hours prior and park in the refrigerator until ready to bake.  The bake time for a previously frozen casserole might be closer to 45-minutes.
  6. Bake for 25 minutes, uncovered and until bubbly.
  7. Serve immediately.
  8. Another recipe suggestion, if you half this recipe, you could make a Polenta Pie instead of a full casserole dish. Or make two Pie’s and enjoy one now and freeze one for later!

Polenta Pie
Polenta Pie

What’s your favorite recipe to celebrate fall?