Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Polenta Lasagna

Being that I spent the majority of my last post raving about Daiya Vegan Cheese, I thought it would be appropriate to post a recipe using the product.

In my neighborhood we have this little Italian restaurant named Fat Lorenzo's that is known primarily for their fantastic pizzas and fresh Italian foods. Every so often I'll drive by and catch a whiff of whatever goodness is baking in their oven and fantasize about the days when I used to be able to eat lasagna...*sigh*...And then I am swiftly brought back to reality by the horn of an oncoming vehicle. (Day dreaming while driving is not one of my talents.)

So you can imagine my delight when I stumbled across this recipe. The rosemary polenta is an excellent stand-in for the traditional lasagna noodles, while the roasted eggplant gives depth, and the mushrooms, roasted bell peppers, and fresh herbs paired with the marinara sauce leaves any lasagna lover's palate satisfied.

The Daiya cheese is perfect in this dish and will remain creamy and melty even when reheated the next day...Did I mention how much I love this stuff?

When I make this dish again (and you can bet your sweet ass I'll be making this again), I'll make sure to thin out my polenta a little more and add a tad bit more marinara to each layer, but other than that, this was absolutely perfect.


Polenta Lasagna
Serves 6
Recipe from Vegetarian Time

3 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 cups polenta or cornmeal
1/4 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Vegetable Filling
1 large eggplant
1 large red bell pepper
2 cups diced mushrooms
1 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs. minced fresh basil
2 Tbs. minced fresh oregano
1/2 cup cooked beans
4 oz. Daiya mozzarella style cheese plus more for the top
3 cups nonfat marinara sauce

1. To make polenta, in large saucepan, bring water to a boil over medium-high heat. Gradually whisk in polenta. Stir with whisk, and cook until polenta is thick, about 10 minutes. Season with rosemary and salt and pepper to taste.

2. Pour polenta into two 8x8-inch baking pans until 3/4-inch thick. (You will need two layers of polenta.) Alternatively, pour polenta into 1 large pan and, when cool, cut polenta into two layers to fit size of 8x12-inch lasagna pan. Smooth and level surface with spoon. Let cool, and refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm.

3. Preheat oven to 400°F.

4. To roast eggplant, using a knife tip or fork, punch several holes in eggplant, and roast for 45 minutes, or until flesh is soft and skin is charred. Alternatively, grill or broil eggplant. Cut in half and, with spoon, scrape soft flesh from skin and chop coarsely. Increase temperature to 450°F.

5. To roast pepper, either roast it on your gas range until the outside is charred and place in sealed paper bag until cool and safe to handle or place on baking sheet, and cook, turning, until skin chars and flesh softens. Remove from heat, peel, seed and cut into strips. Set aside.

6. Unmold polenta, taking care not to break. If using two 8x8-inch pans, cut the pieces so they fit in 8x12-inch lasagna pan. Reserve single piece of polenta for top layer.

7. Reduce heat to 350°F.

8. To make vegetable filling, in saucepan, combine mushrooms, onions, garlic and 1/4 cup water, and cook over medium heat, covered, until onions are soft. Uncover, and cook until liquid evaporates.

9. Transfer to large bowl, and stir in eggplant, pepper, basil, oregano, beans and Dayia mozzarella-style cheese. Spread 1 cup marinara sauce in bottom of lasagna pan. Top with layer of polenta, add layer of filling, spreading it evenly, then another layer of polenta. Add remaining marinara sauce. Top with Parmesan-style cheese. Cover baking dish, or make double layer of parchment paper under aluminum foil to cover dish.

10. Bake for 30 minutes, or until thoroughly heated through. Remove from oven, and let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

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