Friday, March 23, 2012

Polenta Veggie Bake

When I was a child my grandmother would always make polenta at Christmas time and it was never my favorite dish. Now that I have had a chance to work with it more I find it to be very versatile and delicious. I wanted to make a "casserole" type dish and after a few Google searches I put some ideas together and came up with this! Sorry so few pictures, I accidentally deleted the process pictures before they got on my computer.

8 cups water
2 cups polenta*
1 chicken bullion cube
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 TB butter
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese

2 medium red peppers, roasted, skinned, de-seeded and chopped**
1 small zucchini, shredded
2-3 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 TB olive oil

1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 cup shredded smoked provolone

*If you cannot find actual "polenta", regular cornmeal works just fine as long as its not to finely ground, or else you get corn mush(and alot cheaper!)

Bring water and seasonings to a boil, reduce heat to a slow boil, SLOWLY whisk in polenta(or cornmeal). It will become thick fairly quickly. Keep Stirring and stirring for about 5 minutes. Add in butter and parmesan cheese and stir well.
Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook stirring often for about 20-30 minutes.

Meanwhile in a large pan heat olive oil and add onion and garlic, cook until fragrant, add zucchini and spinach and cook until the spinach is well wilted and everything is soft. Add red peppers and combine well.

Remove from heat.(drain a little if it has released alot of liquid.)

Preheat oven to 350
Grease a 9 x 13 pan and pour 1/2 the polenta. Spread on the veggie mixture and all but 1/2 cup of the cheese.
Spread remaining polenta over the top. Top with remaining cheese(and a little more parm if you like)

Cover with foil and bake  for 15 minutes, remove foil and bake 10-15 more. Remove from oven and allow to set for 10 minutes

** to roast red peppers, place whole red peppers under a broiler set to high, broil until blackened, turn 1/4 turn and broil again. Repeat until all sides are well charred.
Remove from oven and cover with a thick towel until cool enough to handle. Peel off skin and pull out the seeds, then chop well.

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