I don't share recipes with you folks unless I enjoyed them myself. Yet every now and then a certain dish will stand head and shoulders above the rest... A dish that makes me do a little happy dance. A dish so interesting or comforting that I have to stand back and feel proud, and then invite someone over to share it. This is one of those dishes. This easy one-dish gluten-free casserole is bursting with Mediterranean-inspired flavor. It is loaded with calcium, a nutrient I haven't been getting enough of since I started cutting down on cow's milk. It is comfort food, and delicious enough that I couldn't accept the delayed gratification of heating up the leftovers so I ate them cold instead. My dining companion gave it two thumbs up.
Some notes about the recipe:
- This recipe is free from cow's milk (though not dairy-free). It uses pecorino romano, a salty parmesan-like hard cheese made of sheep's milk. I used a goat's milk feta but you can use any type of feta you can find.
- Use lacinato kale (a/k/a dinosaur kale) if you can find it. If not, curly leaf will do.
- You can find tubes of pre-made, ready-to-slice polenta at most health food or gourmet food stores and some mainstream groceries. I use the traditional polenta (unflavored) from Food Merchants. If you have the time, you can make polenta from scratch, spread it on a baking sheet in a 1/4" layer while it's still hot, refrigerate it until firm, and use a juice glass to cut small disks out of the polenta.
POLENTA LASAGNA WITH FETA AND KALE
1 tube (18 ounces) prepared polenta
1 1/3 cup marinara sauce
1 cup pecorino romano cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped finely
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
1 small carrot, diced
1 bunch kale (preferably lacinato), shredded
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped finely
1 1/4 cup feta cheese, mashed with fork
Extra olive oil to grease baking pan
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium-high flame. Sautee onions and rosemary until the onions begin to brown. Add garlic and carrots. Sautee until garlic fragrances the oil, about 2 minutes. Add kale and sautee until tender, then remove pan from heat.
Grease the bottom and sides of a 8x8" baking dish. Cut polenta into slices no thicker than 1/4 inch. Line the bottom of the pan with 1/2 of the polenta slices, overlapping them slightly to cover the whole bottom of the pan. Pour 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce over the polenta and spread it evenly. Distribute mashed feta cheese over the marinara sauce. Scatter olives over the feta, then top with an even layer of the kale mixture. Place the remaining polenta slices in a layer, overlapping slightly. Spread remaining 3/4 cup of marinara sauce. Sprinkle shredded pecorino evenly across the top.
Bake for 25 minutes or until the top layer of cheese is beginning to brown around the edges. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving (use a spatula).