Monday, January 08, 2007

Polenta Lasagna with Feta and Kale

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.


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).


Anonymous said...

oh so the yum :) you are on a roll, i can't keep up :D


Unknown said...

Hey BTB: just getting back to you re: braising meats. I guess you can't really milk-braise any meat (b/c of unkosher), but if you were to eat beef, the braising equivalent, I think, would be any sort of super-lean beef like brisket or shank. I wouldn't braise a T-Bone: I think that'd be far more delicious medium-rare. And I think braising with simple water is better than braising with meat broth...perhaps you could try braising with rice milk...hmmmmm

ML said...

Looks so lovely! Lasagna is one of my weaknesses and this fits the bill perfectly!

I'm tempted to make this for dinner one night this week. Thanks for the recipe!

Allergic Girl® said...

i'm similarly temped--esp since i cooked a batch of homemade tomato sauce this weekend, it was just looking for good home. this might be it--i may use sinahc instead of kale--will let you know how it goes.

ByTheBay said...

ML & AllergicGirl - Ooh, please let me know how it turns out! (Or better yet, review it at RecipeZaar if you're a member) I can't wait to hear how it works for someone else.

Allergic Girl® said...

Hey BTB. I made it tonight with fresh spinach and fresh mozz, some lactaid pills on the side, and homemade tomato sauce. There was alot of excees liquid, I had to pour off twice. I wonder if the polenta released water whilst cooking--but it tasted delish nonetheless. I'm gonna play with it some more, but a great base to start from. Thanks!

ByTheBay said...

My dear Allergic Friend,
I'm glad you liked it, thanks for letting me know about the "complications." Wierd about all the excess liquid. I had a little, but figured it was from the kale, the feta and the tomato sauce. The liquid that was left I just let sit in there, it didn't inhibit the cooking and it made it easier to reheat without it getting all dried out - But it did occur to me that maybe next time I'd try with a little less tomato sauce. Fresh mozzarella also releases loads of moisture, in my experience. But mmm, it's so tasty!

Oh and yes, I always have a Lactaid apertif, of course.

Allergic Girl® said...

oh yeah, fresh mozz, that could gave been it as well. hmmm, i will play. but mind, it hasnt kept me from dreaming about it for my lunch today.

even better i had a few slices of polenta left over and i fried them up this AM and topped with maple syrup--oh my, extra delish!

ByTheBay said...

Oh my - Polenta w/ maple syrup! That sounds so good. So, so good. Maybe I will have to have that for breakfast this weekend. I've only ever had savory polenta

Susan Voisin said...

How cool! I was using another polenta lasagna as my guide when I made my vegan version; I wish I'd seen yours first to avoid some of the problems I had with my first batch. It really looks yummy--I may have to try vegan feta in mine next time.

Anonymous said...

I've made this with spinach instead of kale--was wonderful. All at the table loved it.

Sarah said...

I cant wait to make this! My husband and I LOVE everything in it. My son, not so much but we're hoping he'll come around. =)

Tomorrows dinner is gonna rock!

Sarah said...

Made this for dinner tonight, and OH MY GODDESS!! It was fantastic! I used fresh mozzarella cheese in addition to the pecorino. My husband gobbled it up and went back for seconds!

I'll be passing this on to my friends and family with your blog address attached.

Mmmmmmmmmm! We're suckers for good healthy food.